By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
A strong second and third quarter propelled the state-ranked Life Waxahachie Mustangs past visiting Midlothian Heritage on Tuesday night.
The Mustangs jumped out to three-point, 14-11, lead following the first quarter and then outscored Heritage 27-20 over the second and third quarters to build a comfortable lead in the eventual 56-44 District 17-4A victory.
Neither head coach was overly pleased with his team’s execution Tuesday night. Both, however, pointed to the strengths of the opposing bench for those rough patches.
Life Waxahachie head coach Eddie Berumen labeled the game a “bit of a rollercoaster.”
“We played well in parts but then didn’t play very well and didn’t execute very well,” Berumen told KBEC Sports following the win. “It was up and down and a lot that has to do with what Heritage does. I give them all of the credit in the world. They are a well-coached team and the kids play hard, but we have got to get better.”
Vernon Johnson led the Mustangs with 21 points, which included a pair of triples and 7-of-11 showing from the charity stripe. Seven of those free throws were taken in the fourth quarter.
Jarius Morrison scored nine points, Jaden Epkin had eight and Blaine Stacy hit a pair of third-quarter three-pointers for six points to lead the Mustang attack. Drake Heads (5 points), Derwin Lewis (3), Kameron Hall (2) and Gage Mayfield (2) also contributed to the scoring column.
“We want to win the battle of points in the paint, so I’ll go back and watch that [on film] and see who won that battle to see who the guys were that were post-feeding or making the right cuts,” Berumen said. “I think, in spurts, we played defense well and ran well.”
As for Midlothian Heritage, Reggie Adams (11 points) and Jaydon Hogg both reached double figures from the field.
Greg Johnson tallied eight points for the Jags, while Jared Cantrell scored seven, Hayden Wilson had three and both Joshua Manley and Hunter scored two. Gary Reed added a free throw to the cause.
Heritage head coach Andy Slye told KBEC Sports that the Jaguars played well during stretches but need to focus on their mental approach and focus for a full four quarters.
“In moments, we were good, but we got a little sloppy there in the second half and it hurt us,” Slye said. “We just didn’t come out with enough intensity. It falls on me when we don’t win a game.”
He added, “Our practice habits have to get better. We have to be tougher mentally and we have to be smarter with the ball. We have to play well for all four quarters.”
Life Waxahachie improved to 22-8 on the season and 4-0 in District 17-4A with the win, while Midlothian Heritage fell to 2-2 in district action.
Midlothian Heritage will look to bounce back Friday on the road against Ferris, while Life Waxahachie will travel to Hillsboro.
“We have to have better practices,” Berumen said with an eye toward the Mustangs’ next game against a Hillsboro squad that had yet to win a 17-4A game ahead of Tuesday.
“Hillsboro is going to be a tough game and playing everyone a second time is always tough in our district,” he continued. “We can’t have games where you have the rollercoaster of playing up or playing down because it’ll come back and bite you.”
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith