WAXAHACHIE — If you're not excited yet, you'd better check your pulse.
The Runnin' Indians are just getting started.
Waxahachie High School earned its eighth consecutive varsity boys' basketball win Tuesday night, beating Mansfield Summit High School 58-45 at George W. Solis Gymnasium.
Though the win wasn't pretty, Head Coach Greg Gober said, his team's "buy-in" to the Runnin' Indian culture permeated through each and every moment of the game.
"Every player we have really takes pride in how they play — on the defensive side of the ball most of all. The boys' preparation, attitude and buy-in have probably been some of the best things to come out of the last couple of games," he said about his team's win streak and holding one of Mansfield Summit's best players to a season-low 11 points. "Sometimes you have to stop listening to those that tell you that you have to score a ton of points or get all these stats. Wins come in all shapes and sizes and you take them when you can. Our guys understand that and also when we're together, we're better."
Waxahachie, using 15 turnovers created by stifling defensive pressure and eight steals, held Mansfield Summit freshman Jahmius Ramsey, who scored 26 points during the teams' first meeting on Dec. 20, to 11 points on Tuesday. It also handed the (11-11, 4-4) Jaguars their third consecutive loss.
Not only did the Runnin' Indians intercept softly thrown passes and turn them into easy transition points, but they also held Mansfield Summit to its lowest total in nearly a month — despite losing the rebounding battle 24-20.
Though Waxahachie held a slim four-point lead at the end of the first quarter, it blew the doors open and sealed the game during the next 16 minutes. Eight of those 15 turnovers came during a 24-15 third and fourth quarter Runnin Indian run that held Mansfield Summit to its lowest shooting percentages — 33 percent in each quarter — of the game.
"Third quarters are big for us. It's something we take as a challenge knowing teams are going to come out of halftime with adjustments," Gober said. "Sometimes we have some pretty good third quarters, but now and then we don't. The main thing we need to focus on is to keep doing what we do well and get away from the bad things we do. If we do that, with practice and enough work, the rest will improve."
Mansfield Summit won the fourth quarter 14-13 on 5-for-9 shooting and two Jamison 3-pointers, but it was too little, too late. Outside of the 11 points scored by Ramsey, only junior Roland Jamison (18 pts) scored in double digits and Isaiah Thompson (8 pts) was the only other Jaguar that scored more than two points.
The five other players scored two or fewer points.
Waxahachie, though, got contributions from scoring leader Mar'Quaylen Grant (19 pts, 3 ast, 3 rebs) and several other players. He shot 4-for-6 shooting on 2-point field goals and 5-for-6 shooting from the free throw line, and Montrae Gipson (13 pts, 5 stls, 2 asts) and Jaylen Warren (9 pts, 4 rebs, 1 blk) combined for 22 of the team's final 58 points.
Larry Wise (7 pts, 5 rebs, 3 asts) led the Runnin' Indians in rebounds and neared double-double territory and Xavier Thompson II and Tevin Wofford added six and four points, respectively.
Despite the 8-0 district start, Gober's not resting on his proverbial laurels. He said his team understanding where and when they missed opportunities will be a key component to improvement in the back half of their district schedule.
"One thing that stood out to me is we had a lot of opportunities that we didn't clean up," he said. "Those are situations that we need to take advantage of — either to make a stop or extend a lead. It's going to take making a concerted effort to getting better each game. It's not something that just happens. Physically, we've got to be very conscious of locking in on things and we've got to be locked in and focused every time we step on the floor."
Waxahachie will face Red Oak High School at 8 p.m. Friday night at ROHS Competition Gymnasium. The (6-16, 0-7) Hawks hold the eighth and last place in District 10-5A and have lost eight consecutive games.
Their last win came on Dec. 29, a 67-47 victory over the Episcopal School of Dallas.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.