The Runnin’ Indians continued to show their growing pains Friday night as they saught their first district win in two seasons.
It wasn’t to come Friday night as the Indians fell to Mansfield Lake Ridge 67-34. Despite the loss, new coach Damien Mobley continues to find positives in his team’s performance.
“We’re taking baby steps. I told them we’ve got to learn to crawl before they can walk,” Mobley said. “We’re doing some good things, but we’re having trouble stringing those good things together. We’ll do one good thing, then follow it up with a couple bad things and games are getting out of hand.”
Waxahachie trailed by just four after the first quarter, but 12 at halftime. The main concern for the team in this game was foul trouble. While no players fouled out, three players drew three early fouls and couldn’t contribute as much the rest of the game.
“We got into foul trouble early and we had problems scoring,” Mobley said. “One thing we were very positive on is the defense and rebounding. I don’t know how we finished, but in the first half, we got 18 of 20 defensive rebounds.”
That definitely kept the game from being a lot worse and helped extend the game until Lake Ridge got hot in the third quarter. The Indians were outscored 20-6 in the frame and went scoreless through most of the period.
Waxahachie battled back in the fourth quarter and was only outscored 12-11. The main reason for that was the play of Markquevious Wheaton and KJ Erskine. This is Wheaton’s third game on the varsity team after getting promoted.
“It’s not just on the court with Markquevious. He’s been impressive off the court too,” Mobley said. “I’m a big stickler for guys that are really trying and having discipline on and off the court. That was the knock on him when I got here. They said he couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that, but he’s done a complete 180. I can’t even think of a practice or workout he’s missed all season going back to last summer.”
He had five points in the fourth quarter and was scrappy on the glass. Erksine added six points in the fourth quarter as he continues to progress during his freshman season. He’s showing signs that he can be the future of this team.
One of his fellow freshmen, Jalen Reagor, played point guard a lot of the game, but at times seemed to rush his shots. As he continues to develop, he will be able to create better shots for himself and his teammates.
Nik Ranson has been the team’s top scorer all year, but was held to just two points in this game, and they came in the first quarter. He picked up three fouls early in the first half and a fourth one just 20 seconds into the third quarter and didn’t get back on the court.
Londyn Slaughter led the team with nine points and he and Jontavius Donalson were effective at times on the glass. As they develop into all around players, they will be a great duo when it comes to rebounds.
“We’re getting good effort out of everybody,” Mobley said. “We’re just trying to get experience to go with it.”
The team has nine games left to get more experience and maybe the first district win since Jan. 13, 2012. While that’s a staggering stat, Mobley knows that if he focuses on his kids and makes them better, that will soon be a distant memory.
“It takes care of itself. I’m just focused on us getting better,” Mobley said. “I’d be lying if I said I went out and scouted other tams. I’m too busy coaching us up and working with our kids ever yday so they can compete and get better and start having some success.”
Waxahachie (5-11, 0-5 in 15-4A) will get another crack at breaking the streak at 8 p.m. Tuesday when it visits Red Oak (4-12, 1-4 in 15-4A).
The Indians will be home again at 8 p.m. Friday when it hosts Ennis (7-9, 2-3 in 15-4A).
The Lions got a big upset victory against Mansfield Summit on Friday to get right in the thick of the playoff race.