Lady Patriots Battle Cougars To Final Buzzer Fall 44-41

Kamryn Kitchen drives to the basket off a nice pick by Lily Todd. (All Photos by Ron Morris)
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MINT HILL, NC – The Independence High School Lady Patriots basketball team battled the undefeated Charlotte Catholic Cougars down to the wire recently at “The Pit.” The girls who are now 6-2 on the season just fell short of forcing the game into overtime. The Cougars are now 8-0, and 2-0 in the conference. This was a clash of the Titans, probably the two best teams in the conference but the visitors prevailed.

Indy scored the first points of the game when Kamryn Kitchen swished a 3-pointer from the perimeter to take the lead. She found the range again on another 3-point shot to take a 6-5 lead, and scored on a nice power drive to the basket to end the scoring in the first period with the Patriots ahead 8-5. Kitchen supplied enough offense on her own to send a message to the Cougars that she showed up to compete.

Olivia Clark scores a 3-pointer in the 2nd period.

Meanwhile, in the second period, Class of 2024 top ten nationally ranked sophomore Blanca Thomas began to take over the game after being held to 2 points in the opening period for the Cougars. Thomas dominated the boards by hauling down 8 rebounds in the first half, and found the range hitting on a 3-point jumper from the top of the key. At 6’5″ she is strong, uses size to her advantage, boxed out Indy rebounders, and played a pivotal role in the momentum swing going in the favor of the visitors. By the end of the first half the #6 nationally ranked athlete had accumulated 11 points, one block shot while showing her rebounding prowess. While Kitchen added 5 more points, Oliva Clark netted a 3-pointer from the corner, Tamia Burgess scored on a nice baseline move to the basket, and Kaylee Carson scored her first basket. Catholic took a slim 22-20 lead at the intermission.

Tamia Burgess driving the middle lane.

During the third period, Indy’s Kaylee Carson added 6 points, but Kitchen suddenly went cold missing on several scoring opportunities. Junior Lily Todd scored her first basket under the boards when she outhustled Thomas for a rebound, and put the shot up for 2 points. However, Thomas continued to dominate, and other Cougar players stepped up Imelda Mcmenamin landed a 3-pointer, Olivia Fava, Alanis Diaz, and Gracynn Gough all made a solid contribution giving Catholic a 34-28 advantage going into the final period.

The Patriots outplayed the Cougars in the final period. They outscored their opponent 13-10 but came fell short in the final seconds. Carson added 6 points, Kitchen swished her third 3-pointer of the contest to tie the score at 41 with 1:55 remaining. But Thomas countered grabbing two consecutive rebounds and put up a shot to take a 43-41 lead for Catholic with 1:27 on the clock. The Cougars Dani Kacerosky was fouled, she drilled the front shot of a 1-1 situation, her second shot dropped in halfway then bounced out giving Indy an opportunity down only by 3 points with 20.4 seconds remaining.

Now with 9.7 seconds remaining, Carson on an inbound pass did not notice a wide open Clark under the basket for what looked like a sure scoring opportunity potentially drawing a foul, but was forced to call a timeout. The Patriots could not get the ball to their best shooters Kitchen and Carson who combined for 30 points. After the Cougars called their final timeout with 5.7 seconds remaining, Kitchen was forced to take a “Hail Mary” that bounced off the backboard to end the game at the buzzer.

Thomas down the stretch showed how she can take over a game, she scored 8 points, grabbed key rebounds, and clogged up the middle lane for the Patriots guards who like to penetrate to the basket. The Cougars played excellent shutdown defense in the final moments of this contest and earned the victory.

Thomas led all scorers with 21 points along with 18 rebounds for the double-double. Kitchen scored 16 for Indy, and Carson contributed 14 points for the home team.

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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.
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