By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
As high school basketball programs jockey for playoff positioning, 5A No. 20 Red Oak moved one-game closer to a District 14-5A championship.
The Hawks defeated Waco University 56-26 on Friday to improve to 19-6 overall and 6-0 in district play. Red Oak, led by first-year head coach Chris Davis and three double-digit scorers, have won four of their six district tilts by double digits.
The young group has remained focused on Davis’ “do things the right way” mantra during their current six-game winning streak.
“We have a lot of depth and have a lot of players who can come in and give us quality minutes,” said Davis following a 63-62 home win against Midlothian on Jan. 4. “We are athletic and can do a lot of things on defense, as far as traveling and trapping. We do need to work on taking care of the basketball and not making the silly mistakes that we’ve been making. But that comes with a young team, and so does learning how to win. If we can cut down on those mistakes, it’ll help us get more possessions on offense and score a few more points.”
Davis said he continues to emphasize fundamentals so the Hawks can maximize their natural athleticism and speed. He noted discipline on and off the court is also paramount since transitioning over from the girls’ program to lead the boys.
That transition has proved to be a smooth one, too. The Hawks have picked up signature wins against 6A foes like South Grand Prairie (58-55), Grand Prairie (65-62), South Garland (72-59), Rockwall-Heath (55-36), DeSoto (60-59) and Dallas Skyline (59-50).
Those victories helped validate one of Davis’ cornerstone values — “we can compete with anybody.”
“Not much has surprised me much so far this season,” he said. “As a team, we are young, so we learn more about each other as we go. It has been fun, and this is a great group of kids who tries their best.
“[…] If we play our game, we can compete with any team we line up against. And it shows with wins against teams like DeSoto, South Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie and those teams. We just have to take the moment and embrace and realize that we can beat really good teams.”
One of those on-court assets to the Hawks’ successes this year is 6-foot-2 senior forward Jace Wyatt.
Wyatt, who led the Red Oak football team with 63 receptions for 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns, said he prides himself on being interchangeable on the basketball court. And, even though his father played football at Texas A&M, Wyatt noted he hopes to play basketball — not football — at the collegiate level.
“If I’m blessed enough,” added the double-double machine on KBEC‘s weekly sports radio show, The Press Box.
Wyatt averages 10.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The rebounding total easily leads the team, while he is third in points behind junior guards Tarrance Warren (12.1 PPG, 1.6 3PM) and Kirk Queensborough (12.9PPG, 2.5 3PM).
Junior guard Mark Broussard has been steady for the Hawks, averaging 7.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore 6-foot-3 guard Devin Boone has done the same, posting 8.7 points and 7.5 assists per. Jayden Gardner-Murphy, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, is averaging 5.5 points and 4.8 assists, as well.
“Last year, we lost in the first round, but I want to make a deep [playoff] run this year.”
He added, “We are a good team and we are like brothers. We just have to stay focused and execute the little things.”
Listen to the full The Press Box podcast, which featured an interview with Davis and Wyatt and originally aired live on KBEC, here!
Red Oak begins the second half of District 14-5A action at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday on the road against (9-17, 1-4) Cleburne.
The Yellow Jackets currently sit in sixth place, behind (12-11, 2-3) Ennis, (11-15, 3-3) Waco University and (18-9, 3-3) Joshua for the final playoff spots. They lead cellar-dwelling (9-15, 0-6) Corsicana by one game, having defeated the Tigers in their lone match-up thus far.
Red Oak trounced Cleburne to open district play, 77-42, at home on Dec. 21. The Hawks will face Midlothian at 8 p.m. Friday on the road in what could very well decide an outright or shared district title.
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports and The Press Box on KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith