The Waxahachie High School boys and girls basketball teams will travel north to compete in the 76th Dallas ISD Coca-Cola Classic basketball tournament during the winter break, hoping to build momentum going into the season's sizzling second half.
The Lady Indians, too, will look to tackle the tourney for the first time with a new-look offense, but will face considerably tougher competition on their road to the title game when they begin the tournament against Spruce High School at 1:30 p.m. on Monday at P.C. Cobb Sports Complex.
Before this season, the Lady Indians had regularly competed in Duncanville ISD’s holiday tournament, but will face the Coca-Cola Classic this year because head coach Lesli Priebe wanted more exposure for the girls in the Metroplex. During 18 years of the Duncanville tourney, the Lady Indians placed second (2005) and third (1999).
“The tournaments are about the same – they are both 32-team tournaments and five games over three days – but Duncanville invites a lot of out of state teams,” Priebe said. “We thought there was a real benefit to the Coca-Cola Classic because of the opportunity to face teams we possibly may see in the playoffs or later this season.”
The girls will play two games on Monday and Tuesday and one on Wednesday, depending on whether they win their scheduled games.
Waxahachie’s girls drew North Dallas, Woodrow Wilson, Garland and Irving high schools – middling and sub-500 percent win ball clubs – in their bracket field, but they also have a pair of Tigers’ teams standing in the way of tournament glory.
Lincoln, which is possibly Waxahachie’s most dangerous opponent during the classic, is 11-1 this season and has reached at least the area championships in eight consecutive years.
Three of those eight seasons, the Lady Tigers made it to the semifinal round of the state tournament.
Lancaster, which the Lady Indians beat 60-50 on Monday, will surely look to exact some revenge and knock Waxahachie out of the running when and if and when they see them during the tournament. The Lady Tigers could also be the most able to outduel Priebe and the Lady Indians because of their yearly district battles.
The win would do much for the girls confidence and give them a boost before district play restarts, Priebe said.
“Some of the most exciting things in these tournaments for coaches is the chance to get our kids back in in-game shape,” Priebe continued. “It also helps us fine tune things before we finish off our district schedule. I’m excited about how our offense will perform against this caliber of talent.”
Not his first rodeo
The Runnin' Indiians will face W.T. White High School at 10 a.m. at the Alfred J. Loos Sports Complex on Monday to compete in the 76th annual Dallas ISD Coca-Cola Classic and try to bring back a title during their second year in the tourney.
Though this is Damien Mobley’s second year at the 32-team tournament as Waxahachie’s head basketball coach, he has tangled with some of the Dallas-Fort Worth’s best basketball programs in past seasons.
Mobley won the 69th classic in 2009 as head coach of the James Madison High School Trojans, knocking off Mesquite’s John Horn and Dallas’ Skyline, Roosevelt, Lincoln and David W. Carter high schools en route to a 63-56 victory against Justin F. Kimball High School during the final round.
“If you had a good team, you were required to play in the tournament. This is my seventh year and I’ve been to the tournament as an assistant at Roosevelt and as a head coach at Madison,” Mobley said. “They’re going to have to prepare and play our style of basketball. We match up well with these teams that want to run-and-gun and run up and down the floor, but we’ll need to play good basketball at the right time and take advantage of our matchups.”
Waxahachie boys basketball has a puncher’s chance to win the tournament, too. The Runnin’ Indians, by virtue of record or experience, have an edge on WT White, Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Carter high schools and Bishop Dunne Catholic School – the competition in their bracket field.
Of their seven prospective opponents before the championship round, only West Mesquite (10-3) and Carter (11-3) have winning records. The other five teams are a combined 18-37 overall, which is heavily swayed by Bishop Dunne’s 6-8 record.
Mobley has experience coaching against both Carter and Lincoln high schools, having faced them during district 11-4A play while leading Madison High School to three state championships.
Powered by 16 and 13-point performances by sophomore guards Montrae Gipson and Larry Wise, the Indians defeated Sachse High School, another of their bracket opponents, during the Arlington Martin tournament.
“I know West Mesquite’s in our bracket, but Carter’s probably our best test. They play, stylistically, the way a lot of our district’s best teams play,” Mobley said. “What I really want us to do is to have a good showing and come out of this tournament knowing who we are. The focal point for us as a team isn’t to win the tournament, it’s to get back into the rhythm of what we do as a basketball team going back into district play.
“We’ve placed during every tournament we’ve competed in and we want this tournament to be no different,” he continued. “Winning would only be a bonus.”
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