The Independence Patriots basketball team pulled off a major and unexpected upset on Friday night at the “Big I.” They controlled the entire game and tempo throughout the contest with a huge 68-51 conference win. Their defensive effort was simply outstanding, especially against the “Iceman” Jordon Nevill who is an excellent 3-point shooter, and who does it all for East Mecklenburg on both sides of the ball.
Zion Bosley-Slade did an excellent job covering and shadowing Nevill, while he received some assistance from his teammates including good minutes off the bench from the hustling Ayden Davis defensively on the senior standout. Bosley-Slade also scored 20 points of his own, a season high and it was clearly his best all around effort of the season.
Indy jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on some strong rebounding by Tosh Alberga who put up all 4 points inside the paint with two short bank shots under the boards. Then Indy opened their lead to 8-2, but Amari Hicks swished a 3-pointer to cut the the lead to 8-5. The teams battled to a 14-14 tie into the final minute of the period, Zion Bosley-Slade scored all six points for Indy to keep pace until Yancy Thomason drilled a 3-pointer from the baseline giving the Patriots a slim 17-14 first period edge.
In the second period, Alberga continued his furious pace scoring 7 points and rebounding with a noticeable determination. The pace remained fast, but Indy likes to run when they have the opportunity and pushed the ball up the court with Kameron Jasper, Kolbe Johnson and Thomason. Meanwhile, Bosley-Slade was shutting down the Eagles biggest offensive weapon Jordan Nevill with some bench assistance from Davis. The defensive duo combination was working to perfection, along with the entire Indy defense in this key important win for the Patriots. At the intermission Indy had a 31-27 advantage.
In the second half Indy came out firing on all cylinders and dominated the Eagles while frustrating their big three. Amari Hicks got himself in foul trouble picking up his fourth foul in the third period which brought in Bayliss Williams, a good rebounder and defensive player, but lacks the potential offensive fire power of Hicks. Indy took advantage of the situation with Bosley-Slade, Thomason, and Johnson leading the scoring and taking over the game. After Nevill landed two consecutive 3-pointers early in the third period, we thought there was a possibility he good get the hot hand, but the Indy defense continued to contain the big scoring threat, and the offense was largely put on the shoulders of Jonah Lawrence and Thomas White for the Eagles. Indy held Nevill to 13 points in the contest which was a huge difference maker and forced Hicks into foul trouble. Eventually, in the 4th period both Hicks and Nevill would commit five fouls putting this game on ice for Indy. Nevill had 3 fouls in the final minutes as the Eagles where forced to put Indy on the free throw line. The Patriots responded by swishing the vast majority of foul shots at a 80% rate down the stretch.
This is where the experience of coach Preston Davis, approaching 210 career wins and the coaching staff developed an excellent game plan that was perfectly executed by the entire team. This win was certainly a team effort and well deserved.
Zion-Bosley-Slade led all scorers with 20 points, Thomason 15, Alberga 11, Johnson 10, Jasper 6, Chandler Little 5, Josh Iseah 1 for Indy. While Lawrence and Nevill had 13 points for the Eagles.
The Patriots will take on both Rocky River and Butler next week in huge local rivalry games before they match up with Charlotte Christian the following week on their home court. Indy is now 9-7 overall, and 2-2 in conference competition, while East Mecklenburg falls to 12-2 overall, 3-1 in the conference.