The Independence Patriots basketball team now stands alone on top of the Southwestern 4A Conference with a hard fought win over Myers Park 42-38 at the Mustang’s house. The Patriots remain undefeated at 7-0 in the conference, while Myers Parks falls to 6-1.
This game was tailor made for Independence as it featured their defensive capabilities. The Patriots pride themselves on playing aggressive shutdown team defense. They will box out under the boards with consistency. Forward Miles Pauldin probably is the one front court player who fundamentally executes this basic basketball skill most effectively under the boards. At 6’5″ he is a big player, however, taller opponents have difficulty getting around him. Powerful 6’6″ senior Matt Smith will block shots and use his athleticism to his advantage, Tyler Harris at 6’6″ is rangy, he will deflect and block shots, sophomore Omarion Bodrick at 6’6″ will grow get stronger and is a shot blocker. While in the backcourt guards Raja Milton, Andra McKee and Anthony Allen will ball hawk, use their speed and quickness to their advantage to cause turnovers and create fast break opportunities. They can all shoot from the three point range which is another threat opponents have to contend with at anytime during the game.
This is how the Patriots were able to pull off an important conference victory at Myers Park on Tuesday night. As a team they only shot 16-46 or 35% during the game which made this contest a nail bitter until the final minutes. Myers Park did not shoot any better going 16-45 for 36% from the floor. However, the Patriots defense had more of an impact with their low shooting percentage, while the Patriots just did not shoot well tonight.
In the first period Indy took a 10-6 lead, Pauldin led the scoring with 6 points. The Patriots dominated the boards early in this game. While in the second period, Myers Park was able to bounce back outscoring the Patriots 10-6. Therefore, at halftime we were tied 16-16 at the intermission.
In the third period, Indy came out of the locker room aggressive and played a more physical style of game which is their normal behavior. It paid off, because they finally were able to get some separation outscoring the Mustang’s to obtain an 11-6 advantage while taking a 27-22 lead going into the final period.
In the fourth period, the teams matched basket for basket, the intensity level moved up a notch or two including the tempo of play. This is when senior point guard Raja Milton plays at his best, he wanted the ball, and took over the game for the Patriots for the second consecutive game.
After a timeout with only 1:08 remaining on the scoreboard clock with Independence leading 40-35, Myers Park would take the ball down court and hit a 3 point shot with 38 seconds remaining. After another timeout, with Independence ahead 40-38, Milton would come up with a huge steal, and then make a driving layup for the win giving the the Patriots a 42-38 four point advantage going into the final seconds. Myers Park would miss from the three point rage, Matt Smith would grab the rebound and give the out pass to Milton. Now with only 1.7 seconds remaining, Indy would hold the ball as time ran out on the Mustang’s.
For the Patriots Milton led all scorers with 14 points, Pauldin 10, Allen 7, Smith 6, McKee 3, Harris 2. While the Mustang’s were led by Caleb McReed 13, Duwe Farris 11, Drake Maye 9, and Jordan Bly 5.
Independence will now host and face Hickory Ridge on Friday night on their home court. This is another important Southwestern Conference match-up.