GARLAND, Texas — The Runnin' Indians again staked their claim as one of the best teams in Texas — regardless of UIL classification.
And for Head Coach Greg Gober and the wall of green screaming itself hoarse from tip-off to final buzzer, there was no grander stage.
Waxahachie High School, the lone remaining Texas Association of Basketball Coaches top-three team, won its regional semifinal matchup against West Mesquite High School 63-45 Friday night at the Curtis Culwell Center.
The (29-6) Runnin' Indians are the No. 3 TABC 5A boys' team. Little Elm High School, the No. 2 team, lost to West Mesquite in the area round and Waco University High School, the state's No. 1 5A team, lost to Missouri City's Fort Bend Marshall High School 104-84 Friday night in its regional semifinal.
To earn a berth to a regional final round rematch against Mansfield Timberview High School, though, the Runnin' Indians came armed with the power of both offense and defense. Junior guards Mar'Quaylen Grant and Montre Gipson combined for and junior forward Larry Wise.
Waxahachie also had stifling help defense from senior Xavier Thompson II and rebounding from juniors Jaylen Warren and Tevin Wofford.
West Mesquite (25-10) found itself outpaced in each of the second, third and fourth quarters despite holding a 16-point tie at the end of the first. Eleven points from two juniors helped break the deadlock.
TyWaun Hampton led West Mesquite with 17 points and Damein Buckley had 14 points and each guard sunk two 3-pointers each. Mike Nweke added a game-high 12 rebounds to the Wrangler team total of 18.
Gipson, the game's leading scorer on 8 of 11 shooting from the field and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line, scored 25 points and had four steals. Wise, who scored 14 points, added four rebounds and three assists and Thompson II nearly missed notching a double-double after scoring 10 points and hauling in six rebounds.
He also had three assists and one block and helped force two of the Wranglers 11 turnovers.
Waxahachie outscored West Mesquite 14-3 in the fourth quarter and 14-1 in the final five minutes of the game and earned a rematch with its 10-5A district rival. The Runnin' Indians topped the Wolves in both district meetings — by double-digits the first game and by a mere two points the second.
Mansfield Timberview and Waxahachie will play the third and final game of their season rivalry at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Curtis Culwell Center.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.