By Maurice Patton
SPRING HILL – Size matters.
Cameron Bell, Independence’s 6-5 junior post, scored a game-high 26 points Friday night as the Eagles made interim coach Jeff Parker’s debut a successful one with a 64-57 District 11-AAA road win over Summit.
“I think Cameron’s one of the most talented big guys in the county. We wanted to make sure he got some touches,” Parker said after Independence evened its overall (9-9) and league (6-6) records.
“He ran the floor well. That was part of the agreement: ‘Get down there and we’ll get you the ball; if you’re jogging, we can’t get it to you’. He worked hard. I’m proud of him.”
With freshman guard Jett Montgomery (17 points) keeping the offense balanced, Bell was virtually a sure thing in the paint most of the night – particularly as Summit (5-11, 5-7) was without junior Destin Wade, who learned midday Friday he would be unavailable because of pandemic contact tracing.
Summit trailed 16-3 five minutes into the game and by as many as 19 before halftime, but rallied behind four third-quarter 3-pointers. A Brady Pierce trey made it a 43-38 game, but a miss on the ensuing Spartan possession and back-to-back Bell baskets helped Independence score the final 10 points of the quarter.
Down 15 to start the fourth period, Summit crept within five inside the final minute but got no closer.
“We’ve lost a few people,” Werts said after scoring 17 points — hitting three of his team’s 11 treys — to lead the hosts. “We’re not worried. We’re going to work hard and get it right.
“I believe we can beat any team we play. We just start slow. We pick it up, but it’s too far of a stretch. We’ve got to pick it up from the beginning.”
For Independence, the win helped level out an eventful week that saw third-year Eagles coach Doug Keil abruptly resign Thursday morning and Parker installed to lead the team for the remainder of the season.
“No matter the situation – we were playing Summit,” Parker said. “These guys know each other. They’re going to play hard. I don’t think they had anything on their mind but beating Summit.”
Independence boys 64, Summit 57
I 17 20 16 11 – 64
S 10 12 16 19 – 57
Independence (64) – Jett Montgomery 17, Tyus Anderson 8, Sam Womack 2, River Katina 5, Cameron Bell 26, Owen Ries 6
Summit (57) – Andrew Smith 13, Tre Hunter 4, Konata Werts 17, Brady Pierce 8, C.J. Jones 6, Aden Byrd 3, Alex Pollard 6
3-pointers – Independence 3 (Montgomery 2, Katina), Summit 11 (Smith 3, Werts 3, Pierce 2, Byrd, Pollard 2)
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports