RED OAK – It had been 732 days since the Runnin’ Indians last won a district game.
But they got a little luck and all their hard work under new coach Damien Mobley paid off in the form of a 61-60 victory at Red Oak on Tuesday.
“Finally,” Mobley said. “We got two legs off our back. I wouldn’t say the whole monkey. He’s still holding on with two arms, but it’s a start.”
It’s definitely progress after coming so close so many times to getting the elusive victory.
Waxahachie trailed 53-51 with three minutes to go when Londyn Slaughter made a slick turn around jumper in the low post to even the score. The Indians got a steal then Nik Ranson drilled a long two to give Waxahachie a 55-53 lead with 2:53 left.
Red Oak took the lead right back next time down the court with a short jumper and a free throw. Once again, the edge seesawed back to Waxahachie as Ranson hit another big shot. Both teams made mistakes next time down the court, but Waxahachie took the lead for good when Slaughter got a rebound and delivered a long pass to JaTavius Donalson, who took it in for an easy lay up for a 59-56 with 20 seconds to go.
Instead of trying to get the game-tying three-pointer, Red Oak elected to take a quick two-point shot and converted it with 15 seconds still on the clock to make it 59-58. The Hawks fouled freshman point guard Jalen Reagor, who calmly went to the line.
“I just knew I had to make them,” Reagor said. “It was a big time and we needed them. That’s all I was thinking.”
The team did need them and he came through in the clutch by swishing both of the foul shots to make it a three-point game at 61-58.
One again, Red Oak elected to take the quick two points and converted with just 5.9 seconds left and the score was 61-60.
Waxahachie went to the line to try and put the game away for good, but both shots caromed out.
“I was thinking, ‘No, not again,’” Mobley said. “We didn’t need another game to come so close to winning and not get it. It’s hard to win and our guys worked hard to get that one.”
Red Oak inbounded with the chance to possibly win, but the ball was mishandled and wound up kicked out of bounds as time expired.
“We’re going to enjoy this for tonight,” Mobley said. “But we’re going to be right back to work tomorrow.”
It was a fitting way for the streak to come to an end. The game was up-tempo, Mobley’s style, and also a little physical and sloppy, the way the team had been playing the last two years.
Mobley made one key defensive adjustment by playing freshman KJ Erskine as a defensive-press rover of sorts. His goal was to cause havoc anyway possible before the Hawks got past midcourt.
Erskine yelled, jumped and almost danced in front of inbounders faces to put extra pressure on ball-handlers. Several times, that pressure led to Hawk turnovers and Waxahachie baskets.
“He’s such a big body, we figured that was a different way to use him and cause a little mayhem,” Mobley said. “I’m glad it worked too because he may have thought he looked dumb yelling and dancing the whole time and might not have wanted to do it again.”
The Indians also got a great defensive performance from Donalson, who didn’t start, but still had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Waxahachie (6-11, 1-5 in 15-4A) has one goal down, the next is to get to seven wins. That’s how many total wins the team had the last two years combined.
The team will have a chance to do that at 8 p.m. Friday at home against Ennis (2-4 in 15-4A).