Independence Senior Jordan Mobley scored 23 points
CHARLOTTE — When Independence High need a stopper, the Patriots looked to Jordan Mobley.
Mobley hit three straight 3-pointers in a span of 1 minute, 13 seconds in the third period to break open a close game. The senior finished with 23 points as Indy defeated rival Rocky River 90-73 to claim the outright Southwestern 4A Conference regular season championship on Feb. 6.
Independence (22-2, 13-0) will look to cap off a perfect conference campaign when they visit Myers Park on Feb. 9 for the regular season finale. Rocky River drops to 17-5 overall and 10-2 in the league.
Independence lost nine seniors to graduation last season but head coach Preston Davis said the Patriots have got better with each game.
“The hard work is paying off,” Davis said. “I’ve got some good kids. These kids work hard. Honestly, they deserve it because a lot of people doubted us. We lost a lot of talent off a good team, but I knew we had some good pieces coming back. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Independence led by as many as 14 in the first half but Rocky River trimmed the Patriots lead to 49-45 on a layup by Khalil Brantley with 3:52 left in the third period.
Mobley hit two straight 3-pointers for a 55-47 lead and his four-point play upped the lead to 59-49. Raja Milton and Andra’ McKee followed with a 3-pointer each to up the Indy lead to 65-51 and Miles Pauldin converted a three-point play to give the Patriots a 68-55 lead with 35.9 seconds left in the third period.
Mobley said the run late in the third period was a team effort. Mobley was 8-of-12 from the field, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
“My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I was open,” Mobley said. “We were just trying to run our offense. This win is huge and we are going to look to build on this win and get better with each game.”
Rocky River closed the gap to nine points, 72-63, early in the fourth period but the Patriots used a 8-0 run to pull away for the victory.
McKee finished with 19 points for the Patriots while Milton added 15 points. Matt Smith and Jamarius Burton were also in double figures for Indy with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Burton finished with a triple double as the senior added 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Indy was 30-of-58 from the field (52 percent) and they hit 12-of-24 3-pointers.
Davis said balanced scoring has been one of the keys to the Patriots’ success this season.
“The guys had it going tonight,” Davis said. “This is an unselfish group. They don’t care who has it going. If one guy is hot, we are going to work and try and get that guy great shots. They did a great job of playing together. They never lost their composure.”
Sophomore Jaden Springer led three Rocky River players in double figures with 32 points. Narique Smith added 15 points while Brantley finished with 13 points.