For 24 minutes, the Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians beat Mansfield Summit. It’s a shame those 24 minutes came after the Jaguars opened up a big first quarter lead and the Indians couldn’t quite recover.
Summit led by as much as 11 in the first quarter, but Waxahachie never gave up and pulled to within six in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer in the 71-63 loss.
This game always felt like it was a possession away from turning into a blow out, but the Indians never let that happen and stayed within nine the rest of the game.
“Hopefully we’re done with blow outs. Hopefully we understand how to be a tough team,” Waxahachie coach Damien Mobley said. “I tell them all the time that tough teams always give themselves a chance to win. In the first game, we lost to them by 25 and now we got it to where it’s a two-possession game in the final minutes.”
Before this season started, Waxahachie played in a summer league with some of the better teams in Arlington and surrounding areas. The first time the Indians played those teams, they took it on the chin. The second time they played them, Waxahachie was like a whole new team and either won or lost close games like this one.
“I told them the team that lost the first game should have an advantage. We know how it feels to lose to them,” Mobley said. “They haven’t lost to us yet. When you were with 16, 17, 18-year old kids they might come in and think they are going to blow them out. Then they underestimate you and suddenly they are in a game.”
That may have been what happened Tuesday. Summit jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but Waxahachie quickly turned the tables and pulled to within 10-9. The Jaguars went on a 10-0 run late in the quarter to swell a 12-11 lead to 22-11. That was the biggest lead the team had all night as Waxahachie continued to push.
The Indians’ charge was led by junior Nik Ranson, who scored an effortless 34 points. Usually when a player scores that many points in a high school game they are taking a ton of shots and hogging the ball, but that wasn’t the case as Ranson didn’t take any bad shots. In fact, his coach wanted him to shoot more.
“Sometimes he needed to get more selfish and take control,” Mobley said. “There was one time I told him to run a play, but he wanted to let Lonnie (Johnson) do it to try and score.”
The game-sealing play came when Ranson had the ball in his hand. With Waxahachie down six less than two minutes to go, Ranson drove to the bucket and went up for a lay up. As he went up, a Summit player went in hard to either get the steal or break up the shot. Despite the brief tangle, Ranson got a shot off and it went in.
A whistle blew and it seemed like Ranson was going to be sent to the line to make it a three-point game. When the call came in, it was ruled a jump ball, awarding possession to Summit.
The Jaguars hit their free throws down the final stretch to seal the win.
With the win, Summit now has a three-game lead on Mansfield Legacy, Ennis, Waxahachie and Red Oak for the final playoff spot.
The Indians (7-12, 2-6 in 15-4A) will travel to Lancaster at 8 p.m. Friday. The Tigers handed Waxahachie one of its worst losses ever, 94-33, in December.