Patriots advance to finals with win over Ragin’ Bulls

Pats Andra (AJ) McKee putting up a shot for two points. (Ron Morris)
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Nygell Verdier driving past Hickory Ridge. defense. (Ron Morris)

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

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