In a physical and intense Southwestern 4A conference game Friday at East Mecklenburg, the Independence Patriots prevailed over the Eagles 59-52.
Three Independence players scored 48 of the Patriots’ points, with senior point guard Tayon Gleaves leading the way with 24. Deion Lane added 12 points and 15 rebounds for Independence with Workpeh Kofa adding 12. Gleaves, committed to Division II Mount Holly University, poured in six 3-pointers to account for 18 of his 24 points.
“He helped us in the first half and kept us in the game,” said Independence coach Preston Davis, referring to Gleaves’ 18 first-half points. “He likes the big moments. You always want a kid like that on your team who’s not afraid of stepping up, not afraid of taking that risk and tonight it paid off for him, paid off for us.”
The teams finished the first quarter tied at 11. The Eagles (11-8, 4-3) outscored the Patriots 21-18 in the second quarter to lead by three at the half. The lead could have been much more for East Meck had it not been for Gleaves’ 12-point second-quarter effort.
Ray’Quelle Days led East Meck with 16 points. East Meck’s John Rankin finished with 14 points, with eight points in the second quarter and ten in the first half. But the Eagles’ senior forward had only four more the rest of the game, and East Meck coach Jason Grube blamed his team for not helping Rankin.
“I don’t think we did a good job of giving him the ball in the spots where he could really be effective.” he said. “That was part of not getting the ball and moving around in the second half. We got to playing a lot of individual basketball in the second half, and when that happens the ball doesn’t move as well, people don’t get open and they can’t get to the spots where they’re comfortable scoring in.”
Down 40-37 late in the third quarter, Kofa buried a 3-pointer and then had a layup at the third-quarter buzzer which helped Independence take a 42-40 lead. The run continued early in the fourth quarter as the Patriots (10-9, 6-1) built their biggest lead to six points at 46-40.
The win allowed Independence to stay tied with Butler for the top spot in the conference at 6-1.
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