Boxing great Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Waxahachie found that out seconds into Friday’s district-opening showdown with Class 6A No. 13-ranked DeSoto, when junior CJ Noland came off the floor with a busted lip.
But Noland returned to the game shortly afterward and recovered nicely enough to post a near-double-double, senior BJ Francis poured in a game-high 30 points and the 6A No. 4 Runnin’ Indians grabbed a testy 75-58 victory to open District 7-6A play at a jam-packed Mike Turner Gymnasium.
“We did a good job,” Runnin’ Indians head coach Greg Gober said. “We did the things we’ve been working on all year long. It comes down to (that) this is the second part of the season, everyone is 0-0, and now we’re 1-0. That’s all that matters.”
Noland shook off the early blow and finished with 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while junior Jalen Lake added 10 points. Other scorers were AJ Russ with seven points, AB Shorter with six, and Chris Pace and Christian O’Donnell with two each.
The Indians (18-3, 1-0) committed only eight turnovers while forcing 19 by DeSoto. Preston Hodge had five steals off the bench.
J’Kobe Williams led the Eagles with 17 points, followed by Duncan Powell with 14.
Noland left the game just seconds after the opening tip when he was struck in the mouth, probably inadvertently, as he chased down a loose ball on the baseline on defense. While he was getting patched up on the bench, the Eagles (10-7, 0-1) opened up a 5-2 lead.
“It kind of startled him a little bit,” Gober said of Noland.
But Francis hit a pull-up jumper, then Noland got a steal and an offensive putback to put the Tribe on top, 6-5. The Runnin’ Indians never trailed again.
Getting an offensive spark from Russ with seven points off the bench, the Indians took a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter — and then Francis really got hot. The senior guard sank a pair of 3-pointers and had 13 points in the second period, leading WHS to a 41-28 lead at the break.
“BJ was on a mission and did a really good job,” Gober said. ”He led us in a lot of positive ways."
The Indians were never seriously threatened in the second half as they maintained a comfortable cushion that grew to as much as 20 points on three occasions in the fourth.
Play got chippy at times between the two teams down the stretch, and DeSoto’s Powell was called for a flagrant foul in the final minute.
But the Indians had that first district win in the bag, and Gober was already looking ahead to the next game, which was scheduled for Tuesday night at Cedar Hill with another road game at Mansfield Lake Ridge after that.
“Both teams played hard early and we just kept grinding and fighting and trying to find a way to get it done,” Gober said. ”Every game will be tough in this district. Everybody can beat anybody and you just gotta be ready to play every night. There are no nights off.”
7-6A girls: DeSoto 77, WHS 33
The No. 2-ranked girls team in Class 6A completely dominated the game on Friday as the DeSoto Lady Eagles cruised past the Lady Indians at Mike Turner Gym in a District 7-6A contest.
The Lady Indians (7-13, 0-3) were held without a bucket until the 6:00 mark of the second period as Cha’darian Miles finally broke the ice. Their only scoring up to that point was a pair of free throws each by Halle Becerra and freshman Kyla McBride. DeSoto (19-2, 3-0) led 18-4 after one quarter and 43-10 at the half.
Seniors Becerra and Rayna Ross each scored a dozen points to lead the Lady Indians, with all of Ross’ points in the second half. Taz Valencia added four points, McBride and Miles two each and Brionna Parker one.
The Lady Indians made 12 of 16 free throw attempts on the game.
The schedule doesn’t get easier, as WHS was slated to travel to No. 6 Cedar Hill for another district outing on Tuesday evening. They will venture to Mansfield Lake Ridge on Friday.