It was no surprise that the boys Southwestern 4A conference tournament championship game between rivals Butler and Independence came down to the final few minutes.
The teams split the regular-season series, with Butler winning by one Jan. 21 and Independence by six Feb. 17.
Friday night at Garinger High, Butler withstood several second-half Independence runs to take the tournament title 75-67 in a game where the teams were never separated by more than nine points.
Butler senior guard Giavonni Mack was named the game’s most outstanding player after leading his team with 24 points, including 15 in the third quarter. Senior Matthew Fisher-Davis had 23 and sophomore RaeQuan Scott added 14 for the Bulldogs.
“We just wanted to come out here and show them that we were a tough team,” Mack said. “A lot of people were sleeping on us. We wanted to let them know we could compete and be on top of our conference as well.”
Independence (16-10), the regular-season champion, had a 16-13 lead after the first quarter. The lead changed hands six times in the second quarter, with neither team trailing by more than three, and the halftime score was 33-33.
Butler (19-6) and Mack took control early in the second half. Mack hit four three-pointers in the first four minutes to help give the Bulldogs a 47-38 lead.
Butler never trailed again.
“It was definitely a confidence booster for some of our younger guys,” Butler coach Donald Kirby said about Mack’s third-quarter performance. “He’s been making big plays all year and it kind of relaxed everyone else.”
But Independence kept the score close, getting to within two points late in the third and trailing Butler 53-50 heading into the final period. Patriots senior Deion Lane was the catalyst for many of the second-half pushes, scoring 16 of his 27 points in the final two quarters.
Tayon Gleaves and Herbert Bowen Jr. had 13 points each for Independence.
Butler finally iced the game with a three-pointer by Scott and free throws by Scott and Fisher-Davis.
“It was a great momentum builder,” Kirby said. “... It’s good to kind of get that taste of winning, something that’s meaningful to them as we go into the playoffs.”
Myers Park girls roll
Myers Park girls basketball easily won the SW4A tournament championship 73-53 against Butler at Garinger High Friday.
It was the 13th straight win for the Mustangs (24-1), who are ranked No. 14 nationally by USA Today and No. 12 by MaxPreps.
Myers Park’s Rydeiah Rogers was named most outstanding player after scoring a game-high 28 points. Saadia Timpton added 14 and Aliyah Mazyck had 12.
Kobe Leigh led Butler (19-8) with 17 points.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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