Mustangs upset Patriots in conference clash of titans 77-72

De'Drick Givens shoots over defender Drake Maye (Ron Morris)
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Tachai Miller with a drive to the hoop past defense.  (Ron Morris)

The Independence Patriots let a huge Southwestern 4A Conference match-up of the league’s top two teams get away from them. The Patriots standing alone in first place, led the entire basketball game until the final 3 minutes when they allowed what seemed like a sure victory slip away.

De’Drick Givens shoots over defender Drake Maye (Ron Morris)

When you have a good team down and have them chasing you this team learned a valuable lesson, finish strong and do not take the foot off the accelerator. They were outscored in the fourth period 24-7 and 11-5 in the final 3 minutes. Independence had the opportunity to take a three-game lead in an excellent position on top of their conference. Instead, they fell short in the final minutes of the contest and opened the door for Myers Park to challenge the Patriots for the remainder of the season. They are now basically just one game behind first place Independence.

The Patriots are a well-coached basketball team with some good talent. However, they are not as deep as their most recent teams who stepped up and took control of a game at the key moments. The only Patriots who stood out down the final stretch was Omarion Bodrick who gallantly kept the Patriots close along with Tachai Miller who made his free throws netting 5-6 for the game.

The good news for Patriots fans is these teams will probably be meeting two more times during this season both in a regularly scheduled game at Myers Park and during the conference tournament unless there is an upset during the conference championship.

The Patriots are still in a solid position standing on top of the conference with a 6-1 record, rivals Butler 5-2, Myers Park 4-2 continue to chase Independence.

Camren Little drives baseline. (Ron Morris) 

The Mustangs have had some key injuries which has impacted their performance, however, they are now back to full strength and showed they are ready to compete for the conference championship after they rallied from a 16 point deficit.

In the opening period, the Patriots had the hot hand and came out firing hitting their shots. They outscored the Mustangs 21-12 and took control of the boards in the early going. The Pats De’Drick Givens had 2 blocks during the period, while Bodrick, Anthony Allen, Miller, Nygell Verdier and Jalen Hinton all made offensive contributions.

In the second frame, the Patriots Allen led the charge for the Patriots scoring 12 points to keep pace with the Mustangs who seemed to find the range from the floor. The Patriots opened up their lead on a 3-pointer by junior guard Camren Little to give the home team a 33-17 advantage with five minutes remaining. Then Hinton added another 3-pointer to make the score 37-21 just under four minutes. However, the Mustangs fired back with Maye and Xavier McKelvy who were now making their mark on this game. Both players ended up with 11 points at the half. The Patriots Allen had 14 points, Bodrick and Miller  had 10 points each. At the intermission, Indy had earned a 46-36 lead.

Anthony Allen drives to the basket for 2 points. (Ron Morris)

In the third period, the two teams played evenly with Indy getting the best of it outscoring the Mustangs 19-17. They exchanged baskets throughout with Kaden Elasaar now finding the 3-point range which is his specialty. However, the Pats extended their lead to 12 points with a 65-53 advantage.

In the final period, this game suddenly changed with a huge momentum swing after Elasaar swished a 3-point shot from the corner, McKelvy hit a jumper, and Maye drove the baseline for one of his patented power moves past Givens for a basket. Then he followed up with another baseline drive at 5:08 past Verdier for another bucket. The score was suddenly 65-62 Indy holding on to a slim lead. Indy countered on a two point jumper by Miller to make the score 67-62. However, the Mustangs went on another roll to complete the turnaround when Elasaar’s steal and lay-up put the visitors in the lead for the first time at 68-67 with 3:15 remaining in the contest.

Divine Allah grabs loose ball and drives to hoop. (Ron Morris)

Maye was fouled, he promptly hit both free throws with 3:02 on the clock, the Patriots missed a 3-point shot by Allen in and out off the rim, Maye hustled for the rebound, dished a pass to Elasaar who fed a streaking Tyrese Gwinn who made a powerful slam dunk to electrify the visiting Mustangs faithful in the crowd to give the visitors a 72-67 lead with just 2:18 remaining. Indy tried to mount a comeback, they came within 3 points at 75-72, however, on an inbound pass stolen by Elasaar who was fouled with 3.8 seconds remaining, he would drill both free throws and this game was over with the Mustangs achieving a must 77-72 victory. Also of note, Elasaar’s fourth quarter defensive effort on Allen helped turn the tide in the Mustangs favor.

The leading scorers for the Patriots were Bodrick with 20, Allen 18, Miller 15, Hinton 10. Bodrick also had 11 rebounds and 3 blocks, Givens 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. For the Mustangs Maye led all scorers with 23 points, 10 rebounds, Elasaar 16, McKelvy 15, Gwinn 11.

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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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