For the second week in a row and after more than a decade’s absence, the Runnin’ Indians have cracked the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches list of the top-25 teams in the state.
The TABC released its weekly rankings on Monday, slating Waxahachie as the state’s 21st best team after wins against Dallas’ James Madison and Red Oak High School and despite losses against Desoto and Arlington’s James Martin High Schools.
Damien Mobley, the Runnin’ Indians head basketball coach, led Dallas Madison to a combined 151-36 win-loss record and two 3A state championship titles in five years before coming to Waxahachie.
“Waxahachie’s win against Dallas Madison was what got them noticed and made us look at what their losses looked like,” said Rick Shirley, the TABC’s executive director, about the TABC’s decision making process and judgements on its weekly rankings. “There are a lot of teams that are 7-3 or better, but not many of them can beat Dallas Madison.”
Shirley said the selection committee meets weekly and bases its rankings on wins, good and bad losses, strength of schedule and what the teams have done lately, noting wins and losses against higher classified and ranked teams weigh heavier than others.
Of the three losses Waxahachie has recorded, Arlington Martin is No. 28 on the TABC’s rankings and on the cusp of entering the top 25 and Desoto is the 6A conferences third-best team, per the TABC website. Shirley said the committee’s unnamed consortium of former and current high school basketball coaches didn’t deem the losses as “bad,” fueling the Runnin’ Indians vault into the top-25 conversation.
“Lancaster has a bunch of wins against 6A and 5A ranked teams and they started the season as a plus five. Their one loss didn’t matter because it came against another ranked team,” Shirley said about the Broncos Nov. 27 loss to Fort Bend’s Bush High School, the TABC’s No. 2 team. “Just because you beat a team doesn’t mean you jump past it, but it does mean you can get close.
“Elkins (High School) beat Bush and Bush beat Lancaster. That’s the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams right there. They all have a bunch of good wins and no bad losses. A win against one of them would definitely vault you pretty far (in the rankings).”
Lancaster, Waxahachie’s opponent on Dec. 21, was ranked the third best team and Arlington Seguin, which plays the Runnin’ Indians on Jan. 2, was ranked ninth. The disparity between the Broncos’ 8-2 record and the Cougars 7-6 record is a perfect example of how “good” losses can not only negate bad ones, but boost teams in rankings, albeit not as much as victories.
The Cougars suffered back-to-back losses against Desoto and defeats to Keller Timber Creek and Mansfield Summit High Schools, but managed to knock off Houston Aldine High School 70-52.
Their losses – an average margin of 8.6 points per game – could have shown the TABC a tougher team than their record indicated.
“To some coaches, it’s a sign of respect and they take it pretty seriously,” Mobley said, equating the honor being named to the NCAA’s top 25 best teams. “It’s a pretty prestigious honor that shows the hard work our team has done to be recognized.”
He noted when he coached at Madison, every year his teams would be ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 by the TABC, saying he used it as a teaching point and motivation for his players.
“Madison is still a perennial powerhouse in high school boys basketball. For Waxahachie to be named, I see it as a sign as progress and appreciation for a growing program and motivation to climb higher,” Mobley continued. “Looking at the schedule now, Lancaster is probably the No. 1 team in 5A. There’s a mystique Lancaster holds over Waxahachie in basketball and football.
“A win against them would be good for the program as a whole and help break Lancaster’s persona as the ‘superior team.’ That’s how a huge a win against Lancaster would be, in my opinion.”
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