MATTHEWS – Independence answered every challenge Tuesday night.
Jamarius Burton led three Indy players in double figures with 23 points, and the Patriots scored key baskets to stop several Butler High rallies in a hard-fought 70-65 win before a packed house Jan. 30 at Butler.
The victory moves Indy to 20-1 overall and 11-0 in conference play. The Patriots hold a two-game lead over Rocky River (16-4, 9-2) in the 4A Southwestern Conference standings with three games left to play. Butler is now 17-4 overall and 7-4 in the league.
“It is always tough to play over here,” Indy head coach Preston Davis said. “We are rivals and you can always throw the records out. I was proud of the effort from the guys.”
Matt Smith and Andra’ McKee both scored 12 points each for the Patriots. Burton scored eight points in the final eight minutes and Jordan Mobley scored six of his eight points in the final quarter.
Butler’s D.J. Little led the Bulldogs with 19 points and the senior hit a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game that cut the Indy lead to 53-50. But Indy responded with a 12-2 run for a 65-52 lead with 3:45 left in the game.
Mobley and McKee both hit 3-pointers during the run and the Patriots were 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw for the 13-point lead. Butler got as close as 68-62 with just under two minutes left in the game but Smith’s slam dunk with 10 seconds left gave the Patriots a 70-62 advantage.
Indy was 28-of-53 from the field (53 percent) and 8-of-11 from the free throw line. Burton was a sizzling 9-of-11 from the field and he added six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Smith led the Patriots with eight rebounds.
“Butler made some good runs, but we withstood them,” Davis said. “We made some good plays. This team does a good job of moving the ball and playing together. We try to work to get great shots.”
Raquan Brown added 18 points for Butler while Jalen Gibson and Gerrale Gates finished with 16 and 10 points, respectively. Brown closed out the third period with a 3-pointer, and his 3-pointer to open the final period cut the Indy lead to 51-47.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t get over the hump the rest of the way as the Patriots remained perfect in conference play.
Indy travels to Garinger on Feb. 2. They finish up the regular season next week by hosting Rocky River on Feb. 6 before traveling to Myers Park on Feb. 9 for the regular season finale.
Butler is at Hickory Ridge on Feb. 2 and they at Garinger and at home against East Mecklenburg next week.