The Independence Patriots ended the 2019-2020 Southwestern 4A Men’s Basketball Conference regular season with a third consecutive championship. However, this year sharing the championship with Hickory Ridge. The Patriots defeated rival Myers Park on the road 56-53 in a thriller on Friday night.
The Patriots posted a 12-2 record in the conference while Myers Park finished 10-4 with both teams winning on their opponents’ home courts. The Mustangs upset Indy in overtime during the teams first meeting. On Friday night, Indy was able to get redemption with an outstanding team victory along with an excellent defensive effort.
As always, Indy Coach Preston Davis made the necessary adjustments and determined this team to execute pulling off the win over a highly competitive Myers Park basketball team who is also well-coached. After the game, “this team has shown a great deal of perseverance,” said coach Davis.
This was an exciting high school basketball game, it had all the traits of an epic clash between the leagues top teams. However, Hickory Ridge will have some say, they are the conference co-champion finishing 12-2, split the season with Indy, but swept Myers Park earning them the #1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament. The Patriots co-champions hold the #2 seed even though they defeated the Ragin’ Bulls 69-52 winning by 17 points while losing 59-48 by 11. It’s going to be a very interesting conference tournament with the three top teams in the mix. Therefore, an upset is certainly a possibility in a one-game elimination tournament.
In the first period, Indy took a 19-12 lead, however, Myers Park was able to close the gap to 13-12 after the Patriots jumped out to an early 9-3 edge. In the final seconds, Indy’s super sub off the bench sophomore Jalen Hinton swished two consecutive 3-pointers, with one shot drilled at the buzzer to give the visitors a 7 point lead.
In the second frame, the two teams battled evenly, with Myers Park gaining an edge outscoring Indy 13-9. The Mustangs senior guard Kameron Mack found the three-point range, he drilled a couple of 3-pointers and a jump shot just outside the paint to score 8 points. While Nygell Verdier who had an outstanding game for the Patriots along with Divine Allah kept Indy on top as the period ended 28-25 holding onto a slim advantage.
In the third period, both teams went head-to-head and the game became more physical under the boards. The third belonged to Drake Maye, who was silent in the first half for the Mustangs as he scored 11 of the teams 15 points. However, for the Patriots senior guard, Anthony Allen scored 6 points, while Verdier, Omarion Bodrick and Tachai Miller all made solid contributions. When Allen scored on a fast-break layup with 17.7 seconds remaining, it put Indy up by four at 44-40 going into the final period.
In the fourth, the game remained in doubt as Myers Park tied the game 49-49 when Xavier McKelvy swished a short jumper. However, Verdier countered with a strong rebound over Maye, put up the shot off the backboard for two points and a 51-49 Indy lead. After Indy called a timeout, Verdier was fouled, he made both free throws giving Indy a 53-49 edge with 37.8 seconds remaining. A travel call on the Mustangs gave Indy possession, only 32.4 remaining, Allen was promptly fouled and missed the front end of a 1-1 situation, with 24.2 seconds De’Drick Givens hit 1-2 free throws giving Indy a 54-51 lead. McKelvy swished two free throws for Myers Park with 16.5 on the scoreboard clock making this a one-point game 54-53. But, Verdier with 11.6 seconds remaining in the game calmly made both foul shots giving Indy a 56-53 lead.
The Mustangs had the ball, they pushed down the court, set-up a three-point shot from the baseline, it was deflected by Verdier. Now with just 1.5 seconds remaining the inbound pass by Maye was not handled cleanly to end the contest giving the Patriots their third consecutive conference championship.
Nygell Verdier led the Patriots with 18 points and 8 rebounds, Allen contributed 13 points, and Givens added 9 points for Indy. Meanwhile, Maye had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in the loss for the Mustangs.