Patriots hold off FayettevilleBy Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
FAYETTEVILLE — Josh Buchanan and John Snuffer came through at just the right time.
Fayetteville whittled a once sizeable deficit down to one in the third quarter, but Buchanan and Snuffer combined for all but two of Independence’s 12 fourth-quarter points in a 51-47 win Tuesday.
Independence succeeded in its attempt to establish an inside presence, but had trouble finishing shots. Still, the Patriots led by as much as nine in the third quarter.
Behind the shooting of Noah Oliver, the Pirates were able to close to 39-38 going into the fourth. By then, the Patriots’ inside shots began to fall and Independence was able to increase and maintain its lead the rest of the way.
“I thought our big guys played well,” Independence coach Chad Perkins said. “They are young and they have been forced out there early. Snuffer’s shots were falling when we were able to get the ball to him, and Josh Buchanan played well.”
Snuffer finished with 14 points and Buchanan 10 points and five rebounds for Independence.
The game was competitive the whole way. The Patriots (3-0) led throughout but could never put Fayetteville away.
Jimmy Barton scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter to help put Independence ahead 17-10. The teams went back and forth in the second, and the Patriots led 29-24 at halftime.
Fayetteville (1-2) started slowly in the third, turning the ball over on its first two possessions. Independence scored off both turnovers to build a nine-point lead.
But the Pirates eventually came to life. Back-to-back three-pointers by Oliver and a basket by Evan Evans made the score 39-38 at the end of the period.
“He kind of took control of the game when we needed him to,” Fayetteville coach Larry Spangler said.
Oliver finished with a game-high 20 points, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter and, with Independence stalling, fouled out with 35 seconds remaining.
“Oliver is a good shooter and we let him have a good night,” Perkins said. “We went back to our man defense (in the fourth quarter) and gave him a lot of attention. He is a tough player to guard.”
The Pirates had a chance to pull within two late. They got a steal under their own basket, but missed two short-range shots in the final 10 seconds.
Bryce Shiflett was held scoreless but grabbed six rebounds for Independence.
Kyle Conley had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates.
“This was a 100-percent improvement from the Oak Hill game,” Spangler said, referring to last week’s season opening loss to the Red Devils. “I thought we played well defensively. Independence is a good offensive team. I told the kids if they continue to play defense like that, good things will happen.”
Independence will take on Tolsia in the Groovy 94.1-Pepsi Christmas Challenge tournament Thursday at Appalachian Bible College. Fayetteville hosts Greenbrier West Thursday.
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Independence 51, Fayetteville 47
Marques Moore 2 0-0 4, Jimmy Barton 5 0-0 12, Spencer Naley 3 0-0 6, Bryce Shiflett 0 0-1 0, Sean Combs 0 0-2 0, John Wood 2 0-0 5, John Snuffer 5 4-4 14, Josh Buchanan 5 0-0 10. Totals: 22 4-7 51.
Noah Oliver 6 5-6 20, Evan Evans 4 0-0 8, Kyle Conley 6 5-8 17, Daniel Lightner 0 0-1 0, Troy Hopkins 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 10-15 47.
I (3-0) 17 12 10 12 — 51
F (1-2) 10 14 14 9 — 47
Three-point goals: I: 3 (Barton 2, Wood); F: 3 (Oliver 3); Fouled out: F: Oliver.