With a balanced scoring attack, the Independence boys basketball team defeated North Mecklenburg, 69-57, and Porter Ridge, 71-66, this week.
The accomplishment gave the Patriots their third win of the season, eclipsing the total they achieved all last season. The team also is ranked in the Southern Mecklenburg Super 7 for the first time, coming in at No. 7.
“My kids work hard every day, and I’m happy for them that they’re able to have some success,” Patriots coach Preston Davis said. “I know how much film they watch, the drills they do and the time they’ve put in. It’s great to see it pay off, but it’s a long year, so we have to keep it up.”
The Patriots (3-1) have received steady guard play from juniors Marcus Graves and Tayon Gleaves but have had a different leading scorer in each of their first four games.
Graves is the only Patriot to score in double figures each game, and he had 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals against North Meck. On the year, Gleaves leads the Patriots in scoring (17.7 points), forming a dangerous backcourt with Graves (16 points, 4.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds). Graves’ abilities allow Gleaves to be more of a facilitator.
“Tayon’s maturity has grown so much,” Davis said. “Last year, I think he felt like he had to lead the team in scoring for us to have a chance to win each night. Now, he realizes he doesn’t have to score a lot for us to win, and he (understands) that if he helps his teammates do well, we can be successful.”
While Graves and Gleaves have been steady, Deion Lane led the Patriots with 20 points and seven rebounds against North Meck. Workpeh Kofa tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals in the Patriots’ only loss, 70-66, to Harding on Nov. 30.
Jeffrey Dennis (7.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) has been a key factor, and Adrian White, Taj Price and Herbert Bowen Jr. have made contributions.
“We don’t have lots of size, so everyone has to contribute, play good defense and get some deflections,” Davis said. “We have to have balance, and the kids understand everyone needs to chip in.”
The Patriots face a tough four-game stretch beginning Friday, Dec. 7, that includes games at Vance, West Charlotte (Tuesday, Dec. 11) and Ardrey Kell (Dec. 20) and a home game against East Meck (Dec. 18).