New Runnin’ Indian coach Damien Mobley knows he’s playing for the future. But he still wants to win the ones he can right now.
Waxahachie had one it could have won Friday, but lost to Mansfield Legacy 54-50.
“We’re improving. The last three games we’ve improved a lot,” Mobley said. “We know how to play the game now, we just need to learn how to win it. We know how to stay in it and be competitive, but they just need to find out how to win it.”
The Indians’ last three losses have been by a combined 18 points. They are staying in these games, but just have to finish. Waxahachie led or was down just one point in all three of those games.
Part of the team’s struggle to finish games is that the key players are getting worn down in the stretch with Mobley’s aggressive, up-tempo style. The coach thinks the starters get his system now, but he’s still working on getting more players caught up.
“In a sense they get it, but they need to realize that it takes 10 of us to get it. Now we’ve got just five or six guys that get it,” Mobley said of his players’ grasp of his style. “That wears them down and they just can’t quite play all the minutes they need to play yet. We’re working on getting some depth.”
That would have come in handy late in Friday’s game. Waxahachie led 2-0, but didn’t take the lead again until a brief 37-36 lead in the final minute of the third quarter. The Indians never trailed by more than six in between.
Mobley wasn’t at all surprised by this game’s intensity and how hard his team fought after watching them play and practice the week before.
“I kind of thought this could happen because we worked well last week in practice. They looked like they learned some things,” Mobley said. “Each day of practice is like live game experience for us, because they are so far behind in basketball experience. But we are getting some good looks and doing a good job.”
Waxahachie retook the lead on an offensive rebound and put back by Jatavius Donalson in the final minute of the third quarter. Donalson has been a key role player for the Indians due to his great rebounding tendencies.
Legacy snatched the lead right back next time down the court in the final 20 seconds of the third quarter to take a 38-37 lead going into the fourth.
The teams traded buckets to start the final quarter before things slowed down for the final four minutes. Jalen Reagor hit a runner to make it 42-41 Legacy. The Broncos took a brief five-point lead, but back-to-back three-pointers by Nik Ranson and Reagor made it a 50-49 Legacy lead with two minutes to go.
Reagor’s shot was the last made basket for the Indians in the game as the team pushed a little too hard for long three-pointers in the final two minutes. A couple long shots led to long rebounds that Legacy recovered and the Broncos were able to milk the rest of the game from the free throw line.
“Those are some freshmen mistakes that we have to live with,” Mobley said. “We have to make some more winning plays. We had one situation late where we got a big defensive rebound, but they stripped it from us after he came down with it and that led to an easy basket. We can’t let that happen.”
That just about sealed the win and two free throws with 27 seconds left finished off the Runnin’ Indians, who are still looking for their first district victory since Jan. 13, 2012. That’s 25 straight district losses for Waxahachie.
The Indians got strong performances out of their two main juniors, Londyn Slaughter and Ranson. Slaughter finished with six points, 14 rebounds and five steals. He had three points, three rebounds and four steals after the first quarter and looked like he was on pace for a career day until foul trouble forced him to sit for a long stretch in the second quarter. Ranson is the team’s leading scorer and finished with 20 points in this game.
“When Londyn comes to play, he’s on. It’s still about getting a little more experience with him,” Mobley said. “I think Nik is starting to understand his role on the team.”
Despite the eighth loss in nine games, Mobley is overall pleased with how his team is coming together almost 60 percent through the season.
“I’m actually proud of them today, I can’t lie,” Mobley said. “We’re not playing with a lot of experience, but they are coming to work every day and improving every day.”
Waxahachie (5-9, 0-3 in 15-4A) will need to get better quick if it wants to beat Arlington Seguin (8-6, 3-0 in 15-4A). The Cougars upset No. 8 Lancaster on the road Friday night to take sole possession of first place in the district.
The Indians return home at 8 p.m. Friday to face Mansfield Lake Ridge (8-3, 2-1 in 15-4A).