The Independence Patriots men’s basketball team advanced to the Southwestern 4A Conference championship game with a 53-35 victory over Hickory Ridge in the semifinal round Thursday night at Myers Park High School.
Andra McKee led the Patriots with a double double. McKee had 14 points and 12 rebounds, including 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. Tyler Harris added 11 points, and Matt Smith was the third Indy player to reach double figures with 10 points connecting on 3-of-4 from the field and 4-of-7 from the foul line. Raja Milton had 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 1 assist. Miles Pauldin scored 4 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. Omarion Bodrick had 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 assist. Anthony Allen added 3 points, 1 rebound 3 assists and 1 steal.
The Patriots opened the game with two quick baskets by McKee and Pauldin to take a 4-0 lead. After a Hickory Ridge basket, Matt Smith went to the line and made the score 5-2. But with 6:00 minutes remaining, Hickory Ridge’s Kobe Clifton made a 3-point basket to tie the score 5-5.
Smith gave the Patriots a three point cushion with a field goal and by hitting a foul shot to make the score 8-5, but Hickory Ridge executed a backdoor play that cut the score to one 8-7.
Indy finished the first period on a Tyler Harris dunk and a fast break basket by Anthony Allen to put Indy up 12-7.
Raja Milton led the Patriots with six second quarter points. Sophomore Omarion Bodrick added four points and they were the only Patriots to score in the period. With 1:51 left in the half, the Bulls Ragin’ trailed by nine 22-13. The Bulls rallied and trailed by six 22-16 as the first half came to an end.
Indy’s Miles Pauldin started the third period with an offensive rebound and a stick back. The Bulls answered with a top of the key 3-pointer to cut Indy’s lead to five 24-19 with 6:33 left in the period. At that point Indy when to work on the offensive boards.
With 6:12 showing on the clock, AJ McKee went to the free throw line and made both of his shots. 5:53 Matt Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and scored. Tyler Harris got an offensive rebound and scored at 4:55. McKee pulled down another offensive rebound and scored. Matt Smith hit a free throw, and all of a sudden the Bulls found themselves trailing 33-19. Indy never looked back and took a 35-23 third quarter lead.
In the fourth period Tyler Harris drained a 3-pointer, and a fast break basket by Raja Milton had Indy up 41-25 with 6:19 remaining. Another three point basket by McKee along with a Smith free throw and a dunk by Smith moved Indy up by twenty 47-27 with 4:34 left in the game. Indy’s largest lead was twenty-one 51-30 with 2:50 left to play.
The Patriots advanced to the championship round with a 53-35 victory over the Ragin’ Bulls. The Patriots will take on the number 3 seed Myers Park Mustangs who upset Butler 45-43 on Thursday night.
Hickory Ridge 7 9 7 12 – 35 Independence 12 10 13 18 – 53