The boys Southwestern 4A conference basketball final is set. The Butler Bulldogs and the Independence Patriots, long-time rivals, will meet Friday at Garinger at 8 p.m.
The Patriots earned their way into the conference final with a hard-fought 56-52 victory against the East Mecklenburg Eagles in the semifinals Thursday. Deion Lane led Independence with 20 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half. Workpeh Kofa added 11 for the Patriots while Tayon Gleaves finished with 10.
The duo of Ray Quelle Days and Tryle Poindexter paced East Meck with 17 and 16, respectively. For East Meck, their three hard-fought and tightly-contested games against Independence this season didn’t produce a victory.
While the Patriots won, Independence coach Preston Davis wasn’t totally happy at game’s end.
“We have to do a little bit better job of finishing,” he said. “I thought some plays we were kind of suspect, not making strong passes and not doing the little things that can really blow a game for you.”
A six-point sequence for the Patriots with 3 minutes, 30 second left turned the game around for Independence. With the Eagles leading 44-40, Lane scored to cut the East Meck lead to two points. But then the Patriots stole two consecutive inbound passes, converted two lay ups and led 46-44. They didn’t relinquish the lead.
“It was a big momentum switch and it turned the game around completely,” Lane said. “I felt like after that we had the game in control.”
The first half was tightly contested, with East Meck’s six-point lead the largest. The biggest lead of the second half was seven by Independence.
The Patriots will play Butler for a third time this season and second time in a week.
“They’re going to be extremely fired up,” Davis said. “We went in there on their home court (Monday) and beat them on their senior night and for the Southwestern 4A regular-season championship, so I know they’re going to be ready to play.”
The Bulldogs advanced to the conference final with a 64-62 win over Myers Park in the other semifinal on Thursday. Matthew Fisher-Davis buried a shot at the final buzzer to give the Bulldogs the victory.
The girls Southwestern 4A conference final will feature the powerhouse Myers Park (23-1) and Butler (19-7) Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Garinger. Butler knocked off Rocky River 62-54, while the Mustangs defeated Porter Ridge 79-21 in their semifinal matchups.
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