The Independence boys’ basketball team won 24 games last year, more than the three previous seasons under coach Preston Davis combined.The Patriots won the Southwestern 4A regular season and conference championships. They made it to the third round of the 4A state playoffs before losing to Mount Tabor. Senior Deion Lane wants to prove last season wasn’t a fluke. “We just want to show people that last season ... it wasn’t just we got lucky or something like that,” he said. “We want to show people that we are the real deal.” Lane, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 11.8 points last year, good for third on the team. He led the team with 7.4 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game. He was also one of three Independence players, along with Tayon Gleaves and Marcus Graves, to be named All-Southwestern 4A last year after the Patriots’ breakout season. Lane is in his second year on varsity at Independence. Davis said he’s an above average rebounder for his size and has “a knack for getting some blocked shots.” He’s also a good ball handler and will likely be used to bring the ball up the court if the other team is applying pressure. “He’s one of those guys that just does a little bit of everything for us,” Davis said.In the offseason, Lane worked to improve his jump shot and three-point shooting. Davis would like to use him to stretch the defense away from the basket. Lane has been offered by Belmont Abbey and Queens University of Charlotte, according to Davis.Davis said the biggest improvement he’s seen from Lane is his maturity. “Deion, he has developed into one of our leaders for this team,” Davis said. “He’s accepted the challenge of getting better every year and he’s just been working his tail off this offseason to be the best player he can be for us. ...“He sees how good he has been and he wants to be even better. So he’s working, pushing himself to be the best that he can be.” When asked how he describes how he plays, Lane answered with one word: “Hard.” Why? “I just hate losing,” he said. The Patriots finished 24-6 last year, one season after losing 23 games. Lane said the thing that stuck out to him about last season was the Patriots’ mid-season win streak. Independence won 10 straight games, starting in the holiday tournament at Cox Mill High and ending in late January with a seven point loss at Ardrey Kell. Independence won 20 of its final 22 games last season, including a 71-56 win over Ardrey Kell in the SW4A conference tournament championship.“That was critical to our season and all the momentum we had going into the conference tournament and into the playoffs,” Lane said. Lane wants that momentum to carry into this season. “We just feel like we need to keep it coming and not go back to how things used to be,” he said. “We want to keep the success and keep how our team has jelled together and how we’ve played together, keep it the same.” Davis said the team’s success will rely heavily on Lane and fellow returning senior starters Gleaves and Workpeh Kofa, who will join the team when the football season ends. (Graves moved to California.) Davis wants the seniors to set the tone in practice and set an example for the younger players. “I’m expecting him to be one of our top players,” Davis said about Lane. “He’s going to have to help carry that load and, to be honest with you, it’s going to start with him and the senior class. They’ve got to step up and carry us. We’re going to go as our seniors go.” The expectations are high for the team after last season. The Patriots will also be playing a tougher schedule. Independence is scheduled to play in the Charlotte Hoops Challenge at Providence Day, the Union County Hardwood Showcase at Monroe High and the Upward Classic at Gaston Day School. The Patriots will also play non conference games against defending N.C. 4A champion Olympic and N.C. 4A West Region semifinalist Hough. When the season opens Nov. 19 against South Mecklenburg, Davis wants his team playing like it has something to prove. “People are going to want to see was last year a fluke or are we for real?” Davis said. “So we have to play with another chip on our shoulder this year. ...“Those seniors, they’ve really accepted that role and they’re ready to go. This is their senior year, they don’t want to go out, you know, on a bad note so they really want to win.”
Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013
Independence’s Deion Lane wants to prove the Patriots ‘are the real deal’
Five others to watch • Tayon Gleaves, Independence, Sr.: 5-foot-11 Mount Olive commit averaged a team-high 13.3 points last year. • Matthew Fisher-Davis, Butler, Sr.: 6-foot-5 Charlotte Christian transfer and Vanderbilt commit will join Providence transfer Giavonni Mack in the Bulldogs’ backcourt. • Jordan Watkins, Providence Day, Sr.: 6-foot Davidson commit helped lead Providence Day to its first outright conference title since 1999 last season. • Steven Santa Ana, Ardrey Kell, Jr.: 6-foot-3 guard led the Knights with 18.4 points per game last season and shot 39 percent from three-point range. • Rusty Reigel, Charlotte Latin, Sr.: 6-foot-2 Davidson commit averaged 16 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks last season.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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