The Runnin' Indians largely controlled the first half. The Wolves took over in the second. A stolen inbound pass, layup, and floater in the lane decided the outcome.
When Tre Gipson found the bottom of the net to tie the District 10-5A game between No. 1 Mansfield Timberview and No. 2 Waxahachie, it tied the game at 58 with less than 30 seconds to play.
The standing-room-only crowd inside George W. Solis Gymnasium then went bonkers after Qua Grant hit a floater in the lane with under one second to play for the Runnin' Indians win, 60-58.
“I just wanted to scream," recalled Grant after the game of the game-winning bucket." I just had to yell as loud as I could. I was happy."
The senior guard added, "It was extremely fun playing against them and really coming out and working hard the whole game. Even when we might have thought it was over, we kept battling. We kept playing.”
Waxahachie head boys basketball coach Greg Gober said, “Qua refused at the end and said, ‘I’m not going to let this happen,’ and he just made a play."
“[…] When you are in the business for a long time, you get a lot of crazy games, and I have been in a lot of crazy games or comebacks. But this is what we needed here. We needed to feel that way. We needed to fight and come back and do it in front of everybody. Everybody was on the same page tonight.”
A steal and a Qua Grant two-handed jam got the Runnin’ Indians on the board first. Waxahachie went on to take a 9-4 lead after JT Warren drilled a second-chance three-pointer with just over four minutes to play in the opening frame.
The Wolves remained pesky enough in their press and on the glass to fight back and tie the game at 11 as the clock dipped under one-minute to play in the first quarter.
Warren then made a perfect trip to the free-throw line to put Waxahachie up by two, 13-11, and Tre Gipson blocked the last Wolves shot of the quarter to hold the score there.
Warren promptly kick-started the Tribe in the second quarter with a deep three-pointer for a five-point Waxahachie advantage, 16-11.
A pair of costly Waxahachie turnovers in the frontcourt resulted in back-to-back Chris Mullins dunks to close the first half with the Runnin' Indians leading, 24-23.
Warren led the Tribe with 11 points, while Wise finished the half with six. Chris Mullins scored eight points to pace the Wolves offense, and Isaac Likekele added seven.
Much as Timberview did the last time the two teams met in the championship of the Whataburger tournament, Timberview came out of the halftime locker room determined to get to the rim for easy buckets. The game plan again paid off too, as the Wolves took a 37-31 lead into the final four minutes of the third quarter.
Gipson and Grant then combined to take the Runnin’ Indians on a 7-0 run and reclaim a Waxahachie lead, 38-37, only to see DJ Smith drill a three-pointer from the top of the key to put the Wolves back in front.
The lead change forced a Waxahachie timeout with Timberview leading, 40-38, and 1:22 showing on the third quarter clock.
Mekai Pope then drove and found an open Tevin Wofford for a layup to tie the game out of the timeout.
The Wolves scored the final four points of the third quarter to take a 44-40 lead into the last eight minutes.
Both teams cranked up the defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, and the Wolves maintained at least a two-possession lead for most of the first three minutes.
Wise converted an and-one opportunity to cut the Timberview lead to one. Then, after a made Wolves basket, Wise brought the standing-room-only crowd to its feet with a two-handed tomahawk dunk along the baseline.
“It really energized us," Gober said. "That was probably the best dunk I have ever seen Larry have in my time that I have known him over two years. That was, by far, the best opportunity where he just exploded with something extra. That’s what he has, every night, night in and night out, and where he can get. It was unbelievable.”
The head coach added, “The crowd was an incredible force and makes such a difference when they come that way. Our players really fed off of it and we needed them.”
On the next Runnin Indian possession, Demani Richardson pulled down an offensive rebound and found Warren for an open trey. The bucket put Waxahachie on top for the first time in the fourth quarter, 51-50.
Richardson finished with a team-high three offensive rebounds, while frontcourt running mate, Tevin Wofford, added two.
“[Demani] did a great job, and when he rebounds, he rebounds with authority. He is a physical specimen," Gober said. "Truthfully, he and Tevin did a great job for us on the glass and deflecting balls, as well.”
Mullins then made a perfect trip to the free throw line to put the Wolves back on top, 52-51, with 3:40 to play.
Timberview scored the next four points to force another Waxahachie timeout, trailing 56-51 and 2:39 to play in the fourth quarter.
With 38 seconds on the clock and the Runnin' Indians down 58-53, Gipson tickled the twine from the top of the key for a clutch three-pointer.
That was when the magic happened.
The ever persistent, full-court Runnin' Indian press resulted in a Timberview turnover — namely, Richardson and Grant double-teamed the inbound. Grant got the steal and then found an open Gipson for two points in the paint to tie the game with 23.43 seconds to play.
With the game tied and coming out of a timeout, Timberview quickly advanced the ball up court, only to turn the ball over before setting up the offense.
Gipson brought the ball across midcourt and worked quickly to his right. As he moved toward the right elbow, Grant flashed toward the top of the key — uncovered.
Gipson found Grant, who took three dribbles and pulled up for a floater over three Timberview defenders to put the Runnin' Indians on top, 60-58, with 0.6 seconds on the clock.
One timeout, a hectic personnel change, and an inbound pass later, and Waxahachie evened the season series with Timberview.
Gipson and Warren led the Runnin’ Indians with 14 points, each, and Warren shot a tidy 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
Grant scored 12 points, Wise added 11, Richardson had five, and Pope and Wofford rounded out the scoring with two points.
Grant led the team with three steals, while Gipson dished out a team-high three assists. The Runnin’ Indians committed just five turnovers on the evening and shot 42 percent from the field (23-54).
When asked if the Runnin’ Indians were ready to re-embrace the target that comes with being the top dog in 5A, Gober bluntly stated, “It never left.”
“Every game is still going to be that way. Every game we play, everybody is still going to want to get us. We are finally learning that we are going to get the best of everybody, so you better learning to bring your best.”
Waxahachie hosts (15-8) No. 15 Lancaster on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 8 p.m.