On Thursday night the number 2 seed Independence Patriots hosted the number 15 seed West Charlotte Lions in the second round of the state high school basketball playoffs. The Patriots drew a bye in the first round while the Lions had to play the 18 seed Vance on Tuesday night.
This was the Patriots second meeting with the Lions this season. The first game was played on December 28, 2017 in the Phenom Hoops Palmetto Winter Classic in Columbia, South Carolina. Indy took a 68-49 victory over the Lions and went on to win the Championship.
However, the second meeting was closer and a lot more physical than the December game. West Charlotte opened with a 8-7 first quarter lead. The Lions started a fast break off an Indy missed shot. The Lions’ Devontez Walker went to the basket for a two handed dunk but missed the dunk. Walker grabbed the rim, pulled himself up and was called for a technical foul. Indy’s Coach Preston Davis sent Jamarius Burton to the line. Burton made both of the free throws, and Indy took a 9-8 lead with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter.
On the next play Indy’s Andra’ “AJ” McKee picked up his second personal foul and had to go to the bench. Coach Davis gave the call to junior forward Miles Pauldin who came in and played his best game of the season. Pauldin played extremely physical against West Charlotte’s 6’ 7” Patrick Williams grabbing rebounds and scoring in the paint.
With 3:36 left to play in the first period West Charlotte was whistled for a foul on an inbounds pass. Right away West Charlotte’s Devontez Walker got face-to-face with Burton, who had received a cut over his right eye. Two of the referees stepped in as Walker continued voicing his displeasure toward Burton. West Charlotte’s coach Baronton Terry immediately pulled Walker from the game and gave him a seat at the end of the bench. Indy’s Jamarius Burton also had to leave the game with his eye injury.
At the 2:15 mark Miles Pauldin grabbed a rebound and made the putback shot as the Lions’ 6’ 7” Patrick Williams was called for his second personal foul. Pauldin made the free throw and Indy took a 15-11 lead.
With 56.9 seconds remaining in the quarter, Pauldin got the ball under the basket, powered his way to the basket for the goal and was fouled by Williams. This was Williams’ third personal, and he headed to the bench. Pauldin made the free throw and Indy moved out to a 20-17 first quarter lead.
In the second quarter both Indy and West Charlotte had some of their team leaders on the bench. Indy had Burton out with the injury, and AJ McKee in early foul trouble remained on the bench. West Charlotte’s Devontez Walker and Patrick Williams, one of their best scorers and defensive players, remained on the bench.
Indy started the second quarter with a quick three-pointer by Anthony Allen. After a Lions’ turnover, Allen drove the baseline for the layup, and Indy jumped out to a 25-17 lead. West Charlotte called a timeout with 7:15 left in the quarter. After the timeout, Indy came up with a loose ball and with a pass to Matthew Smith for the two handed dunk, Indy went up by ten 27-17 with 6:17 remaining in the first half.
At the 5:48 mark and trailing by ten points, West Charlotte’s Patrick Williams returned to the game. With 2:48 remaining Indy’s Jamarius Burton also returned heavily bandaged on the right side of his face.
With 1:59 left in the first half the Lions cut the score to two 31-29. Indy forced a turnover but missed the shot. The Lions got the rebound with 59 seconds left and slowed the action down with 40 seconds left. With 28 seconds remaining, the Lions missed a shot but the ball went out-of-bounds off an Indy player. On the inbounds play Patrick Williams took a shot in the lane as time ran out to tie the score 31-31.
As Indy came out to warm up for the second half, Jamarius was not with the team and still was not on the floor as the second half started. A few minutes later Jamarius rejoined his team mates with a new bandage covering most of his right eye. Burton returned to game with 5:35 remaining in the third period with the score tied 36-36.
At the 5:07 mark AJ McKee picked up his third personal. West Charlotte moved out to a 37-36 lead as AJ McKee headed back to the bench and Pauldin came back into the game.
Indy moved out to a seven point lead, 44-37 after Burton stole the ball and connected with Raja Milton for the layup with 2:27 left to play in the third quarter. At the 55 second mark Jordan Mobley hit a 3-pointer to make the score 48-37. The Lions made a basket as the quarter ended to make the score 48-39 heading into the final stanza.
With 5:45 left in the game West Charlotte cut the score to five 48-43. Jamarius Burton moved Indy back to an eight point lead with an old fashioned 3-point play. Burton drove down the lane, made the layup and hit the free throw to make the score 51-43.
Jordan Mobley hit a 3-pointer at the 5:08 mark to make the score 54-45.
Indy moved back to a ten point lead 59-49 with 3:05 minutes left to play. West Charlotte started fouling but was fouling the wrong Indy player. The Lions were fouling Indy’s top free throw shooter, Jamarius Burton. Burton went to the charity stripe eight times in the final period and made 11-of-14 shots as Indy went on to win 74-66 and advance to the third round.
Coach Davis said, “We didn’t get off to the greatest start, but we made a run and took the lead. And West Charlotte made a great run to tie the score at the end of the first half.”
“I knew that it was going to be a tough game. The last time we played West Charlotte the final score was very deceiving. It was a tougher game than the final score indicated. But our kids fought hard, played well, and kept their composure. I’m proud of their effort. Miles was big off the bench tonight. He played strong, got rebounds, finished through contact and made free throws. He did a great job on defense. He got us going in the first half. Miles and Anthony Allen got us going. I thought they did a great job off the bench. Both had a lot of energy and played well. And that is what we talk about. This team is very unselfish. We have guys that can step up at anytime, and those guys are ready to play. They got an early opportunity and both did a great job.”
I asked Coach Davis about Jamarius Burton and he stated: “His injury will probably will require some stitches. But he is a tough kid, and he will be ready to go on Saturday.”
Jamarius Burton led the Patriots with 19 points. Other Indy scorers were Matthew Smith 15, Raja Milton 12, Miles Pauldin 11, Jordan Mobley 10, Anthony Allen 5, Andra’ “AJ” McKee 2.
West Charlotte 17 14 10 25 – 66
Independence 20 11 17 26 – 74