WAXAHACHIE — Waxahachie may be sharing the 10-5A throne with Mansfield Timberview High School now, but by Saturday there will be an undisputed — and undefeated — district leader.
The 72-37 throttling of Mansfield Legacy High School by the Runnin' Indians on Tuesday night at George W. Solis Gymnasium was a step towards that goal.
"The bottom line is that you take what you can get it in this district," said Greg Gober, the head boys' basketball coach at Waxahachie High School, about being undefeated four games into the district schedule. "Every game matters to us. I always tell them they all count the same. We're always looking toward the game in front of us. We're getting them when we can."
Guards Montrae Gipson (23 pts, 7 rebs, 2 stls) and Mar'Quaylen Grant (17 pts, 4 rebs, 3 stls) finished the game a perfect 12-for-12 from the field and only missed three of their five 3-point shots.
Every player scored at least a point — including senior shooting guard Tyriq Alston, who received a gymnasium-shaking roar of applause when he entered the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Runnin' Indians won every quarter of basketball and, with help from a 3-pointer and a couple of free throws from junior Jaylen Warren (11 pts), outscored Mansfield Legacy 25-5 in the third.
The Waxahachie first-half defense was so good that it held the Broncos to 21 percent field goal shooting in the first 16 minutes of the game. The Runnin' Indians play in the first half, however, paled in comparison to the game-changing and suffocating defense displayed after halftime.
"Statistically, we thought it was going in that direction and that at halftime, but a lot of times statistics don't tell the whole story," Gober said about whether or not the Mansfield Legacy win was the most complete game of the season for his team.
Like the story of how the Runnin' Indians dissected the Bronco defense with pass after pass and cut after cut or the one depicting how opportunistic defenders like Gipson, Grant and Xavier Thompson II hogged passing lane space and forced opposing ball handlers into one-on-one and isolation situations.
He allowed a quick smirk to cross his usually gruff and sharp features and placed his hands on his hips, pausing to craft his next statement perfectly.
"I liked it because we played hard defense," Gober continued, his hands still planted firmly on his slender waist. "Most importantly, we played as a team. I think they have tremendous confidence in each of their teammates and their starting to get to the point where that confidence lets the singular player give up the ball and let the team make the play afterward. To me, that might have been the most complete team game."
Waxahachie also shined in its ball control, turning the ball over a season-low seven times and handing out 17 assists. Under the pressure of the Runnin' Indians full-court press, the Broncos' offense wasn't nearly as efficient.
Mansfield Legacy went 0-for-8 before hitting their first — and only — field goal of the third quarter. The remaining three points came via free throws from senior Brandon Reeves and sophomore Walter Jackson.
The Broncos committed seven of their 12 turnovers in the second half and three of those seven came from three steals from Grant (3), Gipson (2) and junior Tevin Wofford (1). Warren and junior Larry Wise, who scored three points during the contest, also added a steal each.
Mansfield Legacy also so lost the rebounding battle 31-16 and were outmuscled on the offensive glass by Waxahachie's 11 offensive boards.
No Bronco player scored more that six points and their 24 points marked the lowest total for a Waxahachie opponent since their 86-24 victory against the Young Men's Leadership Academy on Nov. 15.
Gipson, Grant and the Runnin' Indians had 17 assists and nine turnovers in that matchup. Only the number of turnovers forced (23) was more impressive.
Gober and Waxahachie, which are on a four-game win streak, will face Mansfield Timberview High School at 8 p.m. Friday at MTHS Gymnasium. The Wolves won their last six games, including a 61-60 overtime win against defending 5A champion Lancaster High School, and have scored an average of 73 points per game during that period.
For Waxahachie to remain undefeated, Gober said, forcing mistakes and scoring points off the turnovers isn't only a must, but also the first line of defense.
"We still have a way to go, but I think we're getting it. They understand the value in playing defense," he said. "Every game we're going to play is going to be tough. If you don't play defense, you're going to get beaten. It doesn't matter who the opponent is. So you can play offense, but you better have some defense to back it up."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.