Runnin’ Indian junior guard Kareem Erskine only played 12 minutes, but his 13 points may have been the most important of all Waxahachie’s 70-plus points.
Bolstered by the play of Erskine and sophomore point guard Montrae Gipson, Waxahachie toppled county rival Red Oak 79-22 on Friday at George W. Solis Gymnasium and secured its first district win.
“They came out and punched us right in the face,” said Preston Foster, Red Oak’s head boys basketball coach. “They took it to us right from the beginning.”
The Runnin’ Indians earned their moniker on Friday, outpacing Red Oak and outscoring the Hawks in every quarter except the third.
Erskine’s baker’s dozen not only sparked a late Waxahachie 10-point run, but his crucial late fourth quarter score sealed the win.
He only put up four shots – including the clutch three-pointer – and hit three of six from the free throw line, late points that put the game out of reach of Red Oak.
“It was a big shot and what the team needed,” Erskine said about both the win and his game-clinching shot. “When I came off the bench, I wanted to lift the team up. We were going to win and I was going to do whatever it took to keep us in the lead.”
The second half spark from Erskine was a critical component of the Runnin’ Indians district home opening victory, but it wasn’t the only one.
Despite the imposing presence of 6-foot, 8-inch and 210-pound center Adrean Johnson, the Runnin’ Indians outrebounded Red Oak 18 to nine during the first half and 13 to nine during the second.
Seven of Waxahachie’s 31 rebounds came courtesy of Gipson, who added 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting – an amazing 71 percent from the field.
Gipson’s double-digit performance on Friday night was the third time this season he’s nearly captured the elusive double-double.
“He’s a stat sheet stuffer,” said Damien Mobley, the Runnin’ Indians head basketball coach. “We realized after the first or second time he drove (to the basket), they couldn’t guard him.
We ran the offense through Montrae, we found out he was the only one that could do what we wanted to do offensively. It was his night.”
Mobley, despite Johnson’s 27-point and nine-rebound performance, thanked the “basketball gods” that his Indians were able to face big centers like Prestonwood Christian Academy’s Schnider Herard and Desoto High School’s Marques Bolden during the Arlington Classic.
All three are top collegiate prospects and stand taller than 6 feet and 5 inches, the height of the Runnin’ Indians tallest player.
Mobley said facing top-tier talent helped them learn how to defend the type of size they’ll see in district play.
“It helped dispel the myth that size dominates basketball,” Mobley said. “There’s a lot of teams like Red Oak and Lancaster that have a 6-foot, 9-inch or 6-foot, 10-inch centers. We’ve seen it before and it’s nothing new to us now. Business as usual.”