GARLAND – Waxahachie junior Austin Combs scored 23 points in the final five minutes of Friday’s area playoff game against Jacksonville at Naaman Forest High School by landing seven three-pointers during the scoring spree but it was not enough to advance Waxahachie to the regional quarterfinals.
Combs finished the game with 26 points as the Waxahachie Indians fell to the Jacksonville Indians 63-54. Jacksonville (23-11) advances to play district foe John Tyler next week.
“We went forever stuck on 20 and it took us seven or eight minutes just to get to 20 after being stuck on 18. Then we could not do anything, nothing would fall offensively and then when it did start falling the bottom fell out. Chris Henderson banked one in and Austin hit a ton of them. We just needed a little spark to get us going and we got it, but unfortunately for us we were 20 down,” Waxahachie coach Joe Wakeland said.
Waxahachie (19-14) trailed by 26, 46-20, with five minutes left in the game before Combs found the offensive spark and drained a three to start an improbable run.
Combs’ first trey sparked a 26-8 run by Waxahachie that brought the team within five points, 54-49, of Jacksonville with less than two minutes to play.
In a span of three minutes Combs scored 23 points by knocking down seven three-pointers and two free throws while Jacksonville was 8-for-13 from the free throw line to barely fend off the vicious Waxahachie attack.
“Actually, I’ve never been that hot. I get hot a little bit every now and then but never like that,” Combs said. “Coaches told me to keep shooting and keep my head up. That’s what I did and they started to go in.”
There was not a spot on the court the 6-foot junior could not land a shot but his most effective position was just left of the top of the key. Whether it was right at the three-point line or 10-feet back from it Combs landed the shot.
“Anywhere really was working. Everyday in practice I do three pointers all the way around and I scoot back, in, everywhere,” Combs said.
The magic eventually ran out for Waxahachie as Jacksonville took a 56-49 lead shooting 2-of-4 from the free throw line before Combs missed back-to-back threes, forcing Waxahachie to intentionally foul.
“He was hitting from way out there and the last five of them they knew it was coming. We probably should have got away from him and gone somewhere else but you look like a knuckle head when you go away from a guy who has hit seven three-pointers,” Wakeland said.
Down the stretch Jacksonville made its trips to the free throw line count, shooting 7-of-8 in the final minute to pull away and seal the game.
Without head coach Steve Weeks who was suspended for a game because of violation of district policy, the Indians had a tough time landing a basket the first three quarters.
Waxahachie scored nine in the first and second quarter while Jacksonville took a 26-18 lead into half.
In the third quarter Jacksonville outscored Waxahachie 12-2 as the Indians in green and white went 13 minutes between the second and third quarter without scoring a basket.
“We just could not find a bucket in the third quarter. We just had two points in the third quarter, we could not find anything,” Combs said. “We fought our hearts out in the end. We left everything on the floor.”
Playing a base defense, Jacksonville did not allow Waxahachie second chance opportunities around the net despite Waxahachie out-rebounding Jacksonville 32-21 in the game.
“They had really good size and they played the passing lanes very well,” Wakeland said. “They gave us one shot on each possession and we did not get a lot of offensive boards which we told them we would need to do. Really we just did not hit anything. In the first quarter I thought we rushed our shots and in the second we had some good shots but did not make anything and we continued that in the third.”
Leading by 18 to start the fourth Jacksonville scored four quick points off turnovers before taking a 26-point lead with 5:24 to play.
Despite the huge deficit and the fact that they had only scored 20 points in the first 24 minutes of the game the Indians did not give up and fought back.
“We have had several things to overcome this season and just about did it again tonight. We lost one of our best players early in the season, another player who would have figured in the rotation and then we came in not having a coach in this one and we pulled it together,” Wakeland said. “One little bump in the road, this team just kept going and I could not be prouder of them. They did not give up tonight, we just had too long a road to come back.”
Combs led all scorers with 26 points as he drained a three-pointer to open the game before scoring 23 in the fourth. The eight threes in the game are a season high, surpassing his total of seven in a Nov. 26 loss to Keller. He had six treys in a 70-41 win against Cleburne on Nov. 16 and finished the season with 88 three-pointers as he shot 40 percent from three-point territory this season.
Ryan Black led Jacksonville in scoring with 18 points and dropped in three treys including the game-tieing three-pointer in the first quarter.
Waxahachie took a 7-2 lead to open the game before Black tied the game at seven with a three before Jacksonville took the lead for good with 2:13 to play in the first.
No other player reached double figures in scoring for Waxahachie but senior Nykil Lawson reached double digits in rebounds with 11 while scoring four points.
LaDarius Brown scored seven second quarter points and knocked down one three before fouling out with 2:50 to play. Henderson hit a fourth quarter three and finished with five points while fellow senior Larry Ranson also had five points.
Don King III had 10 rebounds and two points for Waxahachie, Ryan Wilt had two points and Randy Head drained a three-pointer at the final buzzer for his only points of the game.
Waxahachie finished the contest with 11 three-pointers while Jacksonville had four.