Butler Downs Indy 42-41 In Heartbreaker

Tosh Alberga grabs a defensive rebound for Indy. (All photos by Ron Morris)
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MINT HILL, NC – The Independence boys basketball team lost a heartbreaker to their arch rival inside “The Pit” on their homecourt to a solid Bulldog team. The Patriots gave it their best effort, and could have sent this matchup into overtime with 0.5 seconds remaining in the contest.

Yancy Thomason scoring a layup.

This was another barnburner from start to finish as both teams battled for supremacy down low inside the paint. Tosh Alberga and Kolbe Johnson for Indy taking on Tyler Showalter and Zion McDuffie, was a treat to watch.

In period 1, the teams played to a 10-10 standoff. The defense on both sides of the ball played aggressive, tight in your face all night long and dominated the game. Both teams are well coached by arguably the top two coaches in the conference. They compete 2-3 times every year and are very familiar with their opponent. Yancy Thomason for Indy, Steph Soutzos and Showalter for Butler swished 3-pointers. Alberga and the Jasper brothers combined for 4 points. While McDuffie contributed 3 for the Bulldogs.

Kolbe Johnson with a bank shot.

In the second period the teams continued to jockey for an advantage, while their defense remained very stingy with Butler outscoring Indy 7-5 in this low scoring affair through the intermission. It appeared to be a game of chess with both sides probing and prodding the other seeking an opening to exploit. When the dust settled, Butler held a slim 17-15 lead.

In the second half the teams showed more offensive capability and the Patriots outscored the Bulldogs 16-10. Leading the charge for Independence was Thomason who scored 10 points for the home team, while Soutzos drilled two more 3-pointers to keep the bulldogs close. The period ended with Independence ahead 31-27.

In the final period the games tempo picked up with strong battles going on inside the paint. There were some forced turnovers and Butler took advantage of the opportunity with two fast breaks ending in slam dunks by McDuffie electrifying the large Bulldog crowd on hand at the “Big I.”

The score now 42-38 Butler ahead with 1:00 minute remaining, Independence missed two free throws that would come back to bite them in the final outcome. But with 28.9 seconds remaining Zion Bosley-Slade of Indy made a nice basket from an excellent feed under the basket from Thomason. Indy fouled Dequadre Currence with 10.5 seconds, shooting a 1-1 from the foul line, the ball went off the rim, Alberga gets the rebound. Indy calls a timeout, they take the ball out from the sideline, push it quickly past mid-court breaking the Bulldog press, get the ball to Thomason who is fouled by Caleb Johnson of Butler with 0.5 seconds remaining.

Thomason goes to the free throw line, puts the first shot cleanly through the net making the score 42-41, the Indy crowd is roaring, on the second shot from the foul line it hits the back rim, bounces up just off the side rim and the Butler bench erupts celebrating the 42-41 victory avoiding overtime.

Yancy Thomason led the scoring for Independence with 17 points, Alberga 9, Bosley-Slade 5, Chandler Little 2, Johnson 2, and the Jasper brothers combined for 6 points. Soutzos 10, McDuffie 8, and Showalter 6 led the scoring for Butler.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.