ARLINGTON — At halftime, Waxahachie's Runnin' Indians trailed by a single point and were within reach of dethroning Arlington Classic five-time champion DeSoto High School on Saturday at Arlington High School Gymnasium.
Twelve 3-pointers from the Eagles and 15 third quarter points from guard Roderick Mason proved otherwise and helped seal DeSoto's 63-49 victory.
"Apparently, we didn't scheme for [Mason] at all defensively," said Greg Gober, the head coach at Waxahachie High School about his team's second place tournament finish. "We decided to leave him open for most of the game and finally [in the fourth quarter] decided we'd play a little closer and close out on his shots."
Mason, who hit all five of his seven 3-point attempts in the third quarter, helped DeSoto outscore Waxahachie 24-10 in the quarter and 36-22 in the second half. Swahn Gipson (20 pts) added a secondary punch and connected on five 3-pointers.
The guard duo scored a combined three points in the fourth quarter and DeSoto shot 2-for-8 from the field and hit only one 3-point shot.
The Eagles' prowess from beyond the arc and ability to get duty-free attempts at the free throw line didn't help any Waxahachie (7-2) hopes of not lost its second game by its largest margin this season. Despite DeSoto shooting 30 percent (4-for13) on 2-point shots in the final 16 minutes of play, all but nine of its second-half points came on 3-point (7-for-7) and free throw (6-for-10) shots.
Leading scorer Xavier Thompson (15 pts) and the Runnin' Indians, which entered halftime with a slim 27-26 deficit after scoring 14 points during the second quarter, lost momentum during the third. Despite hitting 78 percent (14-for-18) of their free throw attempts, Waxahachie's varsity struggled from both the field and the three-point line.
"Our shot selection was poor, but those are the shots they felt like they wanted to take," Gober said. "That's the decision they made and they saw what happens when you do that. We'll do better next time, though. We woke up and realized what could have happened if we went to the basket a little more. The three's would have been a little easier, too Sometimes it's a learning process for everyone."
The team hit only 10 of its 35 shots from the field and finished 5-for-21 on 3-point attempts.
Thompson scored five during the third period and added two rebounds. Mar'Quaylen Grant, Waxahachie's second leading scorer Saturday night, added 12 points.
Junior guard Montre Gipson, who added eight points and four rebounds, to a team-high four steals helped buoy his team defensively while senior guard Jalen Reagor scored six points on two three-pointers pulled down three rebounds for the Runnin' Indians. Waxahachie finished the game with 31 rebounds (14 off, 17 def), as well as two blocks and six steals.
"We're still in a position where we're learning how to deal with adversity," Gober said. "The faster we do that the better off we'll be. I think in life, you get what you deserve. We gave the effort and got what we deserved from that effort. It wasn't a missed opportunity, we just didn't do the things we needed to do."
Gipson and Jaylen Warren (2 pts, 6 rebs, 1 blk) were named to the Arlington Classic All-Tournament team. Waxahachie is scheduled to play Midlothian Heritage High School (8-1), the TABC's No. 10 4A team, at 5 p.m. Tuesday at MHHS Gymnasium.