The James Monroe boys basketball team has taken its fair share of lumps the last few seasons.
That is not the case this season, as the Mavericks have turned the tables and now are the ones handing out the beatdowns.
Independence took its shot at James Monroe Thursday at the New River CTC Invitational, only to become the latest victim of the runaway Mavericks express.
Placing four players in double figures, James Monroe took control early and never trailed in a 93-67 win over the Patriots at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
"It has been a process and last year most of the guys knew that at the time. They have been working really hard towards this," James Monroe head coach Matt Sauvage said. "The most gratifying thing as a coach is to see the players reap the benefits of it. That feels good for them."
After one empty possession to start the game, James Monroe (10-0) caught fire and ran off eight straight points, powered by back-to-back 3-pointers from junior sharpshooter Shad Sauvage.
Sauvage would score 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter.
Before four minutes had passed, the Mavs were up double digits and the pace of the game was much to their liking.
"Especially this year, we like to get up and down the court. However, our defense creates everything for us," Matt Sauvage said, "Offensively, we are a good team. I am not going to say great, but our defense creates it all for us. Every player has bought into it and it feels good to know the players want to play defense."
Independence cut the lead to five just past the midway point of the first quarter, but James Monroe never blinked. Five straight points from Eli Allen pushed the lead back to double digits.
"We were never in it. We never had a chance. It was 11-4 when Shad hit those three 3s on us," lamented Independence head coach Mike Green. "I thought we would play better than we did, but we didn't. We just have to regroup and refocus for Greater Beckley (Friday). Hopefully we will have a better performance."
While the win appeared easy for the Mavericks in the end, they did have a moment of potential disaster. With 2:12 to play in the first quarter, Sauvage was whistled for his third foul and had to sit the remainder of the half.
"The last two calls could have gone either way, but they called it a foul, so it is a foul," Matt Sauvage said.
The balance and depth of the Mavericks showed over the next 10 minutes.
Leading 25-14 after the first quarter, James Monroe exploded on a 9-3 run, powered by seven points from senior Noah Hunter and a bucket from Judd Lankford. Hunter scored nine of his 11 points in the crucial second quarter.
"When Noah went in I told him it was his time to shine and sure enough it was," Sauvage said. "He really stepped up for us tonight. He had been in a slight shooting slump, but he got out of it tonight. That was nice to see."
Dominating the glass for stickbacks and killing the Patriots (3-2) in transition for the remainder of the half, sparked by its defense, James Monroe built a 23-point bulge after 16 minutes of action.
"I told my guys when (Independence) went to that zone, the best thing for us was backside rebounding. That turned out to be our best offense because our big guys, Cam (Thomas) and Judd (Lankford), bought into that," Sauvage said.
Things went from bad to worse for Independence in the second half when James Monroe outscored the Patriots 18-6 in the first five minutes. When Allen dropped in two of his 17 points on the night at the 3:00 mark, the Mavericks had their biggest lead of the game at 72-37.
Josh Burks rounded out the Mavs' double-figure scorers with 17.
Zach Bolen led the Patriots with 17, while Michael McKinney added 14, Carter Adkins scored 13 and Cyrus Goodson had 10.
The Mavericks now turn their attention to Friday's 4:30 p.m. showdown with Class A No. 7 Webster County in the New River CTC Invitational with Class A No. 7 Webster County.
"I have seen them on film and they are a really good team. Very solid fundamentally. Win, lose or draw, the boys love the competition and they are looking forward to it. It is a great atmosphere here," Sauvage said.
Independence is also back in action at 1 p.m. Friday in the New River CTC against Greater Beckley Christian.
Zach Bolen 17, Michael McKinney 14, Cyrus Goodson 10, Brady Green 9, Carter Adkins 13, A,J, Zilinski 2, Jordan James 2. Totals: 26 8-15 67.
James Monroe (10-0)
Josh Burks 17, Shad Sauvage 18, Andrew Hazelwood 2, Eli Allen 17, Peyton Whitt 9, Noah Hunter 11, Judd Lankford 5, Collin Fox 3, Cameron Thomas 9.
I 14 17 16 24 — 67
JM 25 29 26 13 — 93
3-point goals: I: 7 (Bolen 2, McKinney, Adkins 3), JM: 8 (Burks 3, Sauvage 4, Hunter)). Fouled out: Goodson (I).