MANSFIELD — The Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians took a long time to clear the floor after Friday night’s playoff victory. Players were swarming the area championship trophy and head coach Greg Gober was shaking the hand of every WHS fan he could find.
The Indians, only in their second season in Class 6A, are three rounds deep in the playoffs — a position familiar to them as a member of 5A, where they last went that far in 2018 and reached the region final in 2017.
CJ Noland recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Jalen Lake added 15 points as the No. 11-ranked Indians defeated No. 24 Coppell, 62-50, in a Class 6A Region I area-round game at Timberview High School.
“It feels great,” Noland said. “We’ve been wanting this for a long time. All season we’ve been working hard trying to get everything done. We didn’t do everything right, but e executed enough to win.”
The Indians (30-6) were scheduled to face No. 6 Richardson High in the Region I quarterfinals Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Colleyville Heritage. Richardson (32-3) beat No. 18 Denton Guyer in their area matchup, 75-66.
Junior Preston Hodge, starting in place of injured senior AJ Russ, added 10 points, six rebounds and lots of gritty defense before fouling out in the final minute. Senior Chris Pace came off the bench to add eight points.
“The way he scores and plays defense is incredible,” Gober said of Hodge. “He just has a ton of intensity.”
Other scorers for the Indians were AB Shorter with seven, BJ Francis with four and Sammy Kaoud with two.
The Runnin’ Indians never trailed in the game, but Coppell (29-6) kept the game close with physical play and 3-point shooting, sinking a total of eight treys on the night. Adam Moussa had 15 points to lead the Cowboys, followed by Ryan Agarwal with 13 and Brandon Taylor with 11.
“It was tough from the very beginning to the very end,” Gober said. “Neither team let up. It was just a fun game to be in. Thank goodness we came out with the victory.”
The game was tied on three occasions in the first quarter, the last time at 11-all on a Taylor 3-pointer for Coppell. But Lake answered with a quick triple of his own from the right wing, and WHS never relinquished its lead from there.
The Indians led 19-13 at the end of one and got three baskets from Lake, including a 3, to maintain a 32-25 halftime lead.
With three baskets by Hodge in the third period, the Indians started to open up some daylight and took a 41-33 edge into the final eight minutes. They used a 9-0 run that started with a Noland back-door layup late in the third and continued with a basket and two free throws by Pace and ended with Lake’s three-point play with 5:18 remaining, giving WHS a 15-point lead.
The Cowboys made one last push to get back to within 52-46 with under two minutes left, but the Runnin’ Indians made 6 of 6 from the charity stripe down the stretch and Noland ended the scoring for the Tribe with an exclamation dunk in the final seconds.
Every game the Runnin’ Indians play from here on out is just more validation for a program looking to make its mark in Texas’ highest classification.
“We had a rough year and fought through some adversity last year and this year,” Gober said. “Hopefully we can build and get better as we go.”