The 2017-18 division 4-A state champions and currently 10th ranked team in North Carolina just pounded a conference rival by 41 points without most of their starters playing the entire second half. Every Patriot player participated in the contest which clearly showed their deep bench strength and athleticism.
This team is becoming a complete image of their excellent head coach Preston Davis who stresses defense, discipline and teamwork. They are unselfish, athletic, and have solid experience from last seasons great championship run.
In the first period, seniors Matt Smith, Raja Milton, A J McKee, Miles Pauldin, and Tyler Harris took complete charge of the game by dominating both in the frontcourt and backcourt. The defensive play under the boards by Smith, Pauldin and Harris was exceptional which contributed to a 15-4 jump start on their opponent.
By the halftime intermission the Patriots had a commanding 31-13 lead. It could have been bigger if the coach did not rotate players in and out of the lineup. The Ravens Narique Smith hit two three pointers in the period to keep his team within striking distance.
In the second half, the Patriots defense just shutdown the Ravens who were only able to muster 11 points in the two periods played. They scored 8 points in the third period and only 3 points in the final period. Meanwhile, the Patriots widened the gap to a comfortable 49-21 advantage.
In the final period, the Patriots outscored the Ravens 18-3 without any of their starters involved in the game. Independence in this writer’s opinion is clearly the team to beat in the Southwestern 4-A Conference.
Senior Raja Milton scored 10 points, Andra McKee 9, Anthony Allen 9, Smith 6, Pauldin 6, Bodrick 6, Harris 5 points for the Patriots. While senior Narique Smith scored 10 points for the Ravens in the loss.
The Patriots play a huge non-conference away game on Saturday night January 19th at Carmel Christian who is nationally ranked at number 28, and is the number 2 ranked team in the state. The Cougars are loaded with seniors, with many potential division I college recruits. This should be a very good basketball game, and an important challenge for the Patriots as Carmel Christian was the only defeat the Patriots experienced last season in a hard fought championship game at the Queen City Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament.
The Ravens will continue with their schedule on Saturday night at the MLK Peace Basketball Showcase at Johnson C. Smith University today against West Mecklenburg.