Patriots top Ardrey Kell, advances to the Elite 8

Andra’ “AJ” McKee puts up a runner against the Ardrey Kell defense. (Ron Morris)
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Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ men’s basketball teams will make up half of the State’s Elite 8 team participants.  The Southwestern 4A Conference, which I think is the toughest conference in the state, has placed three of it’s teams in the Elite 8.  Indy, Rocky River and Butler have all advanced and will be playing Tuesday night.  The fourth team is the Olympic Trojans who will face off against Indy for the second time this season.  Indy won the first contest 64-46 back on November 21, 2017.  Butler and Rocky River will square off for the fourth time this season.  The winners of these games will advance to the State’s Final Four.

Saturday night’s matchup featured the number 2 seeded Independence Patriots and the number 7 seeded Ardrey Kell Knights in a hard fought game played at Independence High School.

Indy’s Big Man Matt Smith dunks over Ardrey Kell’s Harper Hendricks in Saturday’s playoff win at Independence High School.(Ron Morris)

Indy jumped out to a 13-2 first quarter lead on a Jordan Mobley 3-pointer at the 4:58 mark.  The basket prompted a timeout call by Ardrey Kell’s head coach Michael Craft, who made some offensive and defensive adjustments. Indy went on to take a 21-10 first quarter lead on a rebound and a shot by Jamarius Burton as the horn sounded to end the period.

Indy started the second quarter on back-to-back baseline 3-pointers by Anthony Allen which resulted in the Knights second time out after only 30 seconds had passed into the second period.  After the timeout, Ardrey Kell settled down,  scored 19 second quarter points and cut Indy’s lead to eight points.  With less that than a minute remaining in the half, Indy’s Raja Milton hit a baseline 3-pointer to put Indy up by ten, 39-29, as the first half came to an end.

Ardrey Kell started the second half scoring four quick points cutting Indy’s lead to six, 39-33, with 6:28 remaining in the third period.  Indy came fighting back and at the 5:01 mark, Indy’s big guy, Matthew Smith, threw down a two handed dunk and drew a foul.  Matt’s basket and the foul shot put Indy up by eleven 44-33.  Jamarius Burton drove to the basket and was fouled to give Indy a eleven point lead 53-42 as the third period ended.

Indy’s point guard Raja Milton adds two points for the Patriots in their home win Saturday night.(Ron Morris)

In the fourth quarter the game got really tight and very physical.  With 6:05 remaining in the game Indy moved out to a 57-44 lead which caused the Knights to call another timeout.  After the timeout, Indy missed four back-to-back free throws.

With 2:37 remaining in the game, Ardrey Kell made its final run.  The Knight’s David Kasanganay nailed a 3-pointer cutting Indy’s lead to eight 63-55.  At the 1:50 mark Luke Stankavage hit an Ardrey Kell 3-pointer making the score 65-58 with Indy in the lead.

After the Knight’s 3-pointer, Indy pushed the ball down the court and Jamarius Burton took it to the basket.  No foul was called, and Ardrey Kell came down with the rebound.

With 1:27 left in the game and Indy leading 65-58, Burton went to the free throw line to shoot two.  Burton missed the front end but connected on his second shot to make the score 66-58.

With 58.5 seconds left to play Indy went to the line leading 66-60.  The Patriots missed both free throws.  The Knights grabbed the rebound and quickly pushed the ball down the floor.  With 49 seconds remaining Matt Smith was called for his fifth personal.  The Knights went to the line and cut the score to four, 66-62.

Indy’s sixth-man Miles Pauldin powers his way to the basket in Indy’s 72-65 win over Ardrey Kell. (Ron Morris)

The rest of the period turned into a foul shooting contest.  With 47.4 seconds showing on the clock, Burton went back to the line and made both of his shots making the score 68-62.  With only 30 seconds left in the game, Indy was whistled for a foul, but the Knights hit only one of their free throw attempts making the score 68-63.

Ardrey Kell committed another foul with 26.2 seconds left to play.  Burton knocked down both of the shots to move Indy out to a 70-63 lead.  With 12.4 seconds remaining, once again the Knights put Burton back on the line and watched him make both free throws to put Indy out to a 72-63 lead.

Audrey Kell got the ball down the court and took an uncontested shot with 4 seconds remaining to end the game and make the final score 72-65.

After the game Coach Davis said:  “This time of the season you are going to play some really good teams,  and Ardrey Kell is a really good team.  They are coached well.  They are tough, very disciplined and they execute.  I knew that is wasn’t going to be easy.  But that is why we work the way do, prepare to do what we do, because you never know what type of situation you are going to be in.  I am so proud of these guys.  They showed both physical and mental toughness fighting through adversity and to do what they had to do to move on to the Elite 8.”

Jamarius Burton led the Patriots with 33 points as Indy advanced to the State’s Elite 8.(Ron Morris)

Jamarius Burton led the Patriots with 33 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals.  Matthew Smith added 15 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, had 2 assists and 2 blocked shots.  Other Patriots scorers were:  Raja Milton 8,  Jordan Mobley 6, Anthony Allen 6, AJ McKee 4.

Luke Stankavage led the Knights with 31 points. David Kasanganay added 16, Kam Flynn 6, Royce Jarrett 5, Christian Pickens 2.

Indy moves on to the Elite 8 and will host Olympic Tuesday night.

Ardrey Kell       10  19  13  23  –  65

Independence  21  18  14  19  –  72

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