By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
WAXAHACHIE — Senior guard CJ Noland reached a career milestone while the Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians made yet another statement Wednesday.
Class 6A No. 1 (11-2, 4-0) Waxahachie exploded offensively in the second half to thump visiting No. 21 (12-1, 3-1) Mansfield, 89-68, at Michael Key Turner Gymnasium.
Noland, a University of Oklahoma-signee, poured in a team-best 19 points with five rebounds and four assists in the victory. He did not play any significant minutes in the fourth quarter yet was still named the KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM Player of the Game.
The senior guard also broke the 1,500-career points mark in the process.
“It’s amazing for a young man to accomplish that on a team that doesn’t just let one or two guys score,” Waxahachie head boys’ basketball coach Greg Gober told KBEC Sports. “It’s very difficult to score that many points when everybody gets to be a part of it, but that’s just the kind of player CJ is. He’s special.”
Noland, who humbly always makes sure to put the team first, added that “It feels great to know that I’ve accomplished something that a lot of people haven’t accomplished, but I’m not done and we aren’t done.”
“We have to keep going to accomplish what we want to accomplish,” he continued. “[…] We have to work on our defense and staying in front of people. That’s the thing that I feel like we need to work on. And, when we do that, I feel like we are a very good team and we are very good at it.”
Seniors Montez Young Jr. and Jalen Lake each scored 15 points for the Runnin’ Indians in their District 11-6A victory.
Mansfield’s Drew Crippen led all scorers with 20 points.
The Tigers pulled within single digits, 31-22, with 6:17 to play in the second quarter. The Runnin’ Indians closed the half on a 13-8 run and then opened the second on an 8-2 run to build an insurmountable lead.
Waxahachie received its first national ranking as a member of Texas’ Class 6A this week, checking in at No. 21 in the poll compiled by The Season Ticket, an online high school basketball scouting service.
The local hoops program was last nationally ranked in the USAToday Super-25 during the 2018-19 season while in Class 5A. The Tribe was No. 1 in 5A at that time, led by Larry Wise (UNT), Qua Grant (West Texas A&M) and Tre Gipson (Tarleton State).
Mansfield entered Wednesday’s contest as the 21st-ranked team in the TABC 6A poll.
With Waxahachie leading 16-8, Lake drilled a three-pointer from the left corner to extend the Waxahachie lead to double-digits with 3:13 to play in the first quarter. Prince Banks (9 points) followed with a trey from the opposite corner to put Waxahachie up, 22-9, as the clock ran under two minutes to play.
Waxahachie eventually carried a 27-14 lead into the second quarter, largely fueled by three Banks three-pointers.
Lake scored the first Runnin’ Indian points of the second frame with a pull-up jumper over a Tiger defender from 14 feet. The ball tickled the twine for a 29-18 Waxahachie lead with just over seven minutes to play in the first half.
Mansfield eventually used a free throw run to cut its deficit to nine points, 31-22, with 6:17 remaining.
The lead dwindled to as few as seven points before Young drilled a straightaway three with five-minutes-and-change showing. His bucket put Waxahachie on top, 34-24.
The game then got a bit sloppy on both ends of the court, though the Runnin’ Indians did manage to outscore the Tigers, 13-8, over five-plus minutes.
Lake netted a deep three-pointer from the left-wing as the first-half clock expired to send Waxahachie into the locker room up, 47-32.
Waxahachie could’ve led by much more than 15 points, too, had it not been for a half dozen or more misses in transition. The Runnin’ Indians did, however, manage to drain eight first-half three-pointers.
Gober told KBEC Sports that he emphasized defensive effort during his half-time talk to the Tribe.
“We just needed to play better defense,” Gober explained. “We hadn’t really played very well defensively, and we weren’t really locking in on things, but we came out and locked in, and it was really good for us.”
Waxahachie opened the second half with an 8-2 run for a 55-34 lead that forced a Mansfield timeout with 6:21 to play in the third.
And that was just the start of the offensive onslaught that was to come.
“We need to take what we did at the very beginning of the third quarter and learn to replicate it every night,” Gober said.
Waxahachie closed the third quarter on a 20-13 run to outscore the Tigers 28-15 in the frame for a 75-47 lead.
That’d about do it as far as any on-court fireworks, as Waxahachie soon cleared its bench to allow role-players extended time on the court. And they didn’t disappoint.
Christian O’Donnell (6 points), Darkan King (8pts), Jacob Wilson (2pts) and Jh’Marques Head (2pts) closed out the fourth-quarter and 89-68 district victory strong.
Waxahachie will now face Waco High in a District 11-6A bout at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Waco.
The Lions have dropped their last 12 games and are currently 1-14 overall and 0-5 in 11-6A. Their district games have been relatively close, though. Ahead of Wednesday’s game against Mansfield Lake Ridge, the Tigers had been outscored by Mansfield, Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Midway 47.3ppg to 71.3ppg.
All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports
Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith