Independence Patriots 2017-2018 Men’s 4A State Basketball Champions.(Ron Morris)
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On Saturday night March 10, 2018 in the Dean Smith Center the Independence Patriots’ men’s varsity basketball team stepped on the state’s biggest stage and won the men’s 4A State Basketball Championship.  Heritage, from Wake Forest and representing the eastern part of the state, fell to the Patriots in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A Basketball Championship game by a score of 71-60.

Jamarius Burton, Coach Davis and Jordan Mobley receive the State Championship trophy and the Championship Banner.(Ron Morris)

Heritage’s head coach Tilden Brill said, “Independence played a heck of a game, and you have to tip your hat to them.  I thought it got away from us in the third quarter.”

The Patriots stand to honor America.(Ron Morris)

Coach Brill commended two of his seniors Jarren McAllister and Jayden Gardner.  McAllister scored 16 points, while Gardner led the Huskies with 30 points.  When Gardner walked to the bench near the end of the game, the Patriots student body showed a lot of class as they rose to their feet to applaud Gardner for his night’s hard work.

Indu’s Matt Smith (1) and Heritage’s Jayden Gardner (40) on the opening tip off.(Ron Morris)

After the game Indy’s head coach Preston Davis said, “I’m just proud of these guys, proud of this team, proud of this group.   I ask a lot of these guys day in and day out.  It is tough on them, and I’m tough on them.  One thing about this group, they never lost focus on the goal.  They play as a group.  They play for each other. They play together.   They are a very unselfish group.  Doesn’t matter who gets the credit at the end, they just stay focused on the goals.  I’m extremely ecstatic to be in this situation coming here as a player and now being able to lead this group and my alma mater back here.  This is a dream come true.  I told them this is about them, their legacy.  I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Coach Davis as the final horn sounds.(Ron Morris)

The Huskies took an early 2-0 lead on a jumper by Jarren McAllister, but Indy’s Matt Smith quickly tied the score on a layup.  AJ McKee’s drive to the basket and a foul on the Huskies put Indy in the lead 5-3 with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter.  The Huskies tied the score at five each on a jump shot by McAllister.  Then Indy’s Jordan Mobley hit back-to-back three pointers to help Indy finish the first period on a 9-2 run and take a 17-9 lead at the end of the quarter.

Jamarius Burton (2) drives past Tre Waller (10) in the first quarter of the State’s Championship game.(Ron Morris)

Indy started the second quarter with Jamarius Burton driving to the basket scoring a layup to put Indy up by ten.  Heritage cut the lead to five 19-14 on a Jayden Gardner basket and a three pointer by Tre Waller.  AJ McKee answered with a three pointer and Matt Smith hit a short jumper to give the Patriots an eight point lead 24-16 with 4:59 left in the first half.

Indy’s Miles Pauldin scores over Heritage’s Jayden Gardner in Saturday’s State Championship game.(Ron Morris)

With 2:21 left on the clock, the Huskies cut the score to four 26-22 on a three point shot by Lucas Taylor.  However, Indy’s point guard Raja Milton answered with a three pointer of his own to make the score 29-22 with a minute left in the first half.  Matt Smith finished out the first half hitting two foul shots to make the half time score 31-24.

Jamarius Burton (2) brings the ball down the court against the Huskies’ Lucas Taylor.(Ron Morris)

Indy started the second half creating two Huskies’ turnovers, and a Huskies’ foul gave the Patriots a 12 point lead 36-24 with 6:42 remaining in the third period.  However, the Huskies went on a 7-0 run on baskets by Jayden Gardner and Jarren McAllister to cut the score to 36-31 with 4:53 left in the third quarter.

With 3:34 remaining Jamarius Burton got the ball in the paint for a layup to move Indy back to a seven point lead 38-31.  After a media timeout and with 2:24 showing on the clock, Indy’s Miles Pauldin made a basket and Indy was up by 40-31.

Assistant coach Gordon Tucker and Indy players celebrates the victory.(Ron Morris)

Coach Davis called a thirty second time out with 1:05 remaining in the period.  After the timeout, Jordan Mobley hit another three pointer with 31 seconds left to move Indy out to a 12 point lead.  Matt Smith picked up his fourth foul with only 19 seconds left in the quarter.  Jayden Gardner went to the line and sank both of his foul shots cutting Indy’s lead to ten.  However, Indy’s  AJ McKee finished the period with a three pointer as the horn sounded to give the Patriots a 13 point lead 46-33  as the teams headed to the fourth quarter.

Heritage started the final period by fouling Raja Milton who made both of his foul shots to put Indy up 48-33 with 7:21 showing on the clock.  Indy took its biggest lead of 16 points 52-36 on a Miles Pauldin layup with 5:36 left in the game.  Jarren McAllister cut the score to 52-38 and the Huskies took a timeout.

After the timeout, it quickly became apparent that the Huskies were going to try to extend the game by fouling.  So with 4:59 to go Heritage’s Dyson Pender fouled Raja Milton who connected on both of his free throws to move Indy back to a 16 point lead.  Jarren McAllister hit a three pointer cutting the score to 54-41 with 4:42 left in the game.

Players celebrate the victory over Heritage.(Ron Morris)

With 3:34 left in the game, Miles Pauldin was whistled for his first personal foul with Indy leading 56-41.  After a media timeout, Jayden Gardner went to the charity stripe and hit both of his shots cutting the lead to 56-43.

At the 2:23 mark the Huskies had cut Indy’s lead to nine points 58-49;  however, the Patriots started hitting their foul shots and moved back to a 12 point lead with 40 seconds left in the game.  A three pointer by Lucas Taylor cut Indy’s lead to nine points 69-60 with 29 seconds left to play.

Indy’s Matt Smith finished the game with a layup with nine seconds left to give Indy a 71-60 victory over the Huskies and the State Championship title.

The game had only two tied and one lead change all of which came in the first quarter.  Heritage’s biggest lead was 2 points at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter.  Indy biggest lead was 16 points with 5:36 to go in the game.  Heritage held the lead for 2.46 minutes.  Indy led for 27.58 minutes, and the score was tie for 1.16 minutes.

Heritage’s Jayden Gardner led his team with 30 points and 13 rebounds.  He was named Heritage’s Most Outstanding Player.  Jarren McAllister poured in 16 points, had 5 rebounds, one assist and one steal.  Lucas Taylor scored 9 points.  Tre Walker had 3 points, and Dyson Pender finished the night with 2 points.

Jamarius Burton was named the Charlie Adams 4A Men’s Basketball Championship Game’s Most Valuable Player.(Ron Morris)

Indy’s Jamarius Burton scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, had three assists and was named the Charlie Adams 4A Men’s Basketball Championship Game’s Most Valuable Player.

Junior guard Andra’ “AJ” McKee was voted Indy Most Outstanding Player.(Ron Morris)

Andra’ “AJ” McKee led the Patriots with 20 points, pulling down 3 rebounds and had one assist and 2 steals.  AJ was named Independence’s Most Outstanding Player.

Jamarius Burton and AJ McKee congratulates each other.(Ron Morris)

Matt Smith added 12 points,  pulled down 5 rebounds, had 1 assist and  2 blocked shots.  Raja Milton scored 11 points, had 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.  Jordan Mobley had 9 points and 4 rebounds.  Miles Pauldin added 4 points and had 1 rebound.  Anthony Allen finished the night with 2 points.

Coach Davis presents his team with the State Championship Trophy.(Ron Morris)

Independence finished the season with a 31-1 record, going undefeated against North Carolina public schools.  The Patriots won the Southwestern 4A Conference regular and tournament championships, beat local rival Rocky River to win the Regional Championship and won Indy’s second State Basketball Championship in the school’s history.

Indy players getting ready for the awards preventions.(Ron Morris)
Players and Assistant Coach Tucker celebrate.(Ron Morris)

Heritage             9  15    9  27  –  60

Independence  17  14  15  25  –  71

How Sweet It Is!
Our homecoming queen Emily Statile, the cheerleaders and our student body cheering the Patriots on to victory.(Ron Morris)
Indy’s Boosters Club president and family in the Smith Center.(Ron Morris)
Assistant Principal Michael Stallsworth and Principal David LeGrand in the Dean Dome for Saturday’s Championship game.(Ron Morris)
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