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ANALYSIS+GALLERY: No. 11 Runnin’ Indians turn toward second half with room for growth

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports 

The Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians were humbled on Friday. The loss was their first in 7-6A this season — and they bounced back quite nicely on Tuesday.

Waxahachie defeated a struggling Mansfield Summit team inside Mike Turner Gymnasium, 58-43, to improve to 5-1 in district play and 22-4 overall.

The Runnin’ Indians scored just 10 points in the first quarter, which was perfectly OK considering the woeful Mansfield Summit Jaguars mustered only four.

Waxahachie then began the second frame on a 7-3 run and eventually headed into the halftime locker room up 25-15. The Runnin’ Indians outscored Summit in the third quarter (17-12) and held the pace in the fourth for the 58-43 win.

Junior guard CJ Noland scored a game-high 23 points with 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter.

BJ Francis added 11 points, while Jalen Lake (10), AB Shorter (6), AJ Russ (6) and Christian O’Donell also contributed.

“We had a little bit more energy and we moved around a little bit better,” Waxahachie head boys’ basketball coach Greg Gober told KBEC Sports following the game. “Every day has to be an improvement for us and we have to learn how to better move without the ball.”

Gober added, “Every day we are trying to find something to hit us with a spark of energy. There are too many people thinking about how many points they get and they think that predicates if you had a good game or if you had value. We have to get out of that and see the value in rebounding and defending and the energy that you bring.”

Thankfully, this past Friday’s lesson — a 62-60 loss against now-No. 10 Grand Prairie — came with plenty of time to recover in the regular season. It should also help to ensure the Runnin’ Indians regain and stay focused ahead of a postseason or San Antonio push.

And, yes, we are already eyeing the Alamo Dome in March because…well…this year’s Runnin’ Indian team is that good.

We should also remind ourselves that regular-season rankings or one-off losses do not determine postseason success. After all, we’d all rather celebrate a win in mid-March than over-celebrating a close win in January. So, as a reminder, also consider this:

  1. Waxahachie should’ve (or could’ve, for the optimist) lost this past Tuesday’s home game against Mansfield. Yes, we won 57-56, but the final minute was a mess and uncharacteristic of a Gober-led team. The Tigers faltered late with two opportunities to steal the upset. Flip the results of last Tuesday and Friday and the record is the same.
  2. A game should never be left for the referees to decide. Friday was the case-and-point for that train of thought. The Runnin’ Indians had their opportunities despite the groans and moans of the Waxahachie faithful after what felt like several dozen referee-led stoppages in the 62-60 loss to No. 10 Grand Prairie. However, debating debatable whistles and missed shots won’t change Friday’s final score.
  3. The core of the Runnin’ Indians is rather young and they’ve also just begun to gel after most were forced into expanded roles during the 17-14 season last year, as the 2018-19 Runnin’ Indians had just four seniors (JT Warren, Da’mariae Watkins, Demani Richardson and Adrian Overton). Both CJ Noland and Jalen Lake will be top-100 players in the country — and top-50 in Texas — next season. Both are already ranked inside the top-75 in the Class of 2021 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Basketball. BJ Francis, a senior, has stepped up as a true leader. If there was ever a time to trust the learning curve, it’s now.
  4. This next sentence is hard to type, knowing that some will consider it to be shots fired. The 2019-20 Runnin’ Indians are more talented — even if just slightly — on the basketball court than the 2017-18 squad led by Larry Wise (UNT), JT Warren (West Texas A&M) and Tre Gipson (Ranger Junior College). And that team had its state title aspirations cut short by a few unfortunate bounces and one hot streak behind the three-point line by the Lancaster Tigers.

UP NEXT

The Runnin’ Indians face No. 14 (19-6, 4-2) South Grand Prairie at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Grand Prairie.

After climbing as high as third in the TABC 6A poll, the Warriors have since lost to Grand Prairie (72-68) and DeSoto (53-43) in 7-6A play this season.

PHOTO GALLERY

All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports.

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Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

tsmith@kbec.com

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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