By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The third-ranked Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians “upset” 6A No. 2 Richardson on Friday evening behind a stellar second half.
TABC No. 3 (4-1) Waxahachie led No. 2 (2-1) Richland by as many as nine points and trailed by as much as six during the 71-68 win that remained within two possessions for most of the evening.
With Montrez Young Jr. out, junior Prince Banks stepped up huge as Oklahoma-signee CJ Noland’s backcourt running mate.
Noland and Banks combined for 42 points, with each pouring in 21. Banks scored nine of his career-high in the fourth quarter. Noland was forced to miss quite a bit of the third quarter after taking his fourth foul and did not score in the frame.
V’Zarion Roberson scored 11 for the Runnin’ Indians, while Darkaun King (5), DJ Pigford (5) and Kambren Drummer (1) also chipped in.
Richardson’s Cason Wallace scored a game-high 28 points. The junior guard has offers from over one dozen Power-5 programs and is currently graded between a four- and five-star recruit on several platforms. He is also thought to be a top-30 prospect in the 2022 class.
Rylan Griffin added 16 points for the Eagles, while post-forward Gannon Parker (6-foot-7, 225lbs) had 14 and Dequinton Williams (6-foot-3) scored 10.
THE RETURN AND THE WAIT
The Runnin’ Indians have yet to be at full strength this season. They’ll have to continue the waiting game a little longer, too.
Fortunately, sharpshooting senior Jalen Lake made his much-awaited season debut after signing a national letter of intent with Division-I Colorado State University just before the season tipped off. The senior scored seven points while also providing a much-needed lift on the defensive end.
Waxahachie was, unfortunately, without the services of the high-flying Montez Young Jr. (6-foot-5), who was in a walking boot just one week after scoring 22 points and bringing down 16 rebounds in a win against 5A No. 1 Lancaster.
The Runnin’ Indians are also still missing Preston Hodge and Jh’Marcus Head as they continue to lead the Waxahachie football team (and its defense) into the 6A postseason for the first time in program history. Hodge and Head are arguably the top two defenders on the Tribe’s defense — and you’d be silly to argue against that statement.
Waxahachie led 24-16 after the first quarter and carried a 37-33 lead into the halftime locker room.
With just over four minutes to play in the third quarter, Roberson drilled his second three of the night to give the Runnin’ Indians a 44-41 lead — only to have Griffin knock down his second in as many attempts to knot the score at 44-all.
The game remained tied — this time at 49-all — as the clock dipped under one minute to play in the third quarter.
Richardson ultimately carried a 50-49 lead into the fourth quarter, but not before a little controversy. One official signaled a last-second basket in the paint good — though it quite clearly came after the buzzer. The call was reversed following a short discussion between the three officials.
Griffin opened the fourth quarter with a straightaway, deep two-pointer to extend the Richardson lead, 52-49.
The Eagles eventually built their lead to seven points, 60-53, with 5:05 to play in regulation. The shift in momentum forced a timeout by Waxahachie head boys’ basketball coach Greg Gober. The stoppage led to Banks converting on an and-one opportunity.
A Richardson turnover then resulted in Banks grabbing an offensive rebound and laying in two more points for the Tribe. The pair of buckets cut the Richardson lead to 60-58 with just over three minutes to play.
Noland and Banks then both converted on fastbreak opportunities to push the Runnin’ Indians ahead, 62-60, with 2:56 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
With just over one minute to play, Lake and Noland took charge on the defensive end to put one-on-one pressure on the Eagles’ backcourt. Lake eventually forced a turnover and then went coast-to-coast for a crafty left-handed layup.
The Noland-Lake defensive pressure would ultimately prove to be the true turning point in the ballgame. It was as textbook a midcourt trap as one could draw up, too.
Gober called his second timeout of the quarter with 56 seconds to play and Richardson leading by one, 67-66.
22 split his trip to the free-throw line and gave the Runnin’ Indians a chance down two, 68-66.
And they capitalized.
Banks drove from the left-wing, turned and dished to Robertson for a deep three. The bucket flipped the lead in Waxahachie’s favor, 69-68, with 12 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
Noland stepped up yet again on the defensive end to force a Richardson turnover. He was fouled in the process and went to the charity stripe with 5.8 seconds on the clock.
The senior captain knocked down both and put Waxahachie on top, 71-68.
Pickford blocked an Eagle three-point attempt from the right corner with 0.6 seconds to play to secure the victory.
The Runnin’ Indians return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday on the road against No. 14 (7-0) McKinney. The Tribe will then face No. 13 (0-3) San Antonio Wagner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.
Waxahachie’s 4-1 start to the season includes victories over state-ranked John Paul and 5A No. 1 Lancaster, as well as an 87-83 road loss to iSchool of Lewisville.
Meanwhile, the Richardson Eagles began the season with wins against unranked Temple and Frisco Memorial. Richardson is in District 7-6A alongside JJ Pearce, Irving, Dallas Jesuit and Lake Highlands.
Following their brutal non-district schedule, the Runnin’ Indians will still have to deal with top-ranked and District 11-6A foe (5-0) Duncanville at some point or three this season.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith