NATIONAL HOOPFEST DFW: Huntington Prep edges Waxahachie despite CJ Noland's 30
The second game of the ARS Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest DFW between Waxahachie and Huntington St. Joseph Prep (WV) came down to the final possession Friday night.
Unfortunately, it was game MVP JT Thor and the Irish who came out victorious inside Mike Turner Gymnasium in Waxahachie, 67-63.
Thor is a 6-foot-9 forward and ranked No. 25 in the ESPN top-100 for the class of 2021. He scored 16 points and grabbed four rebounds in the win.
CJ Noland led the Runnin' Indians with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting and also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. JT Warren added 15 points for the Tribe and BJ Francis had 11.
The Runnin' Indians surrendered several inches to the Irish across the board, as every starter for Huntington Prep measured in at 6-foot-3 or taller.
But make no mistake about it, Waxahachie head boys' basketball coach Greg Gober will not allow for height disadvantages to play into any storylines this season.
"We just have to understand what we are and maximize the best of what we are. We can't worry about how big they are," Gober said after the game. "We could have done some things better. We could have taken better care of the ball but our effort was good and it got us through it. Once we learn to do some things with that effort then we will be OK."
The game unfolded as an offensive showcase early, as Huntington Prep tied the game at 29-all with 1:49 to play in the first half when Jaemyn Brakefield threw down a thunderous dunk in transition.
Warren then found the bottom of the net in the waning seconds of the first half with a runner along the baseball to send the Runnin' Indians into the break down just one, 36-35.
Noland led Waxahachie with 13 points at the half, while Warren added 11.
The Runnin' Indians came out of the break with an increased tempo on the offensive end of the court and quickly took their first lead of the second half, 39-38, with a Francis floater in the lane.
Huntington Prep later tied the game at 43-all when AJ Hoggard hit a three-pointer from the right wing.
Warren responded for the Tribe on the ensuing Waxahachie possession with a triple of his own from the left corner.
Francis followed suit with a three-pointer from the left wing to push the Runnin' Indians ahead by six, 49-43, with under three minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Irish eventually cut into the Runnin' Indians lead and trailed by one possession, 51-49, as the game headed into the fourth quarter. They then tied it up a few seconds into the final frame.
But not for long, as Warren drilled a contested three-pointer from the right corner with 6:34 to play in the fourth for a three-point Waxahachie advantage, 54-51.
A little later, Huntington Prep took its first lead of the fourth quarter, 57-55, when Brakefield slammed home two points off of a Waxahachie turnover. The sequence forced Gober to call his first timeout of the half with 4:18 to play.
The Irish eventually extended their lead to four points before Nolan converted on a pair of free throws with three minutes and change to go.
Noland again kept the Runnin' Indians deficit to two points when he collected an offensive rebound and got the putback to fall with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Gober was forced to call a second timeout with 31 seconds to play and the Runnin' Indians down three, 64-61.
Warren had an opportunity to tie the game on the ensuing inbound, which was actually the third after the first two were deflected out of bounds. There was clear contact on the shooter, but no foul was called and the shot clanged off the side of the backboard.
After two Irish free throws and a Noland layup, the Runnin' Indians still had a chance to extend the game with 1.7 seconds to play. They did not get the steal on the ensuing inbound and fell by four, 67-63.
Brakefield scored a team-high 20 points for the Irish, while Greg Tribble had 14 and AJ Hoggard had 12.
Waxahachie fell to 8-3 on the season with the loss and returns to action at 8 p.m. Saturday against IMG Academy (Fla) in the final game of the ARS Rescue Rooter National Hoopfest DFW. The Ascenders defeated DeSoto, 66-61, in the opener on Friday night and are ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Super 25 national preseason poll.
"This is a great opportunity for us, no matter what," Gober said. "We said there would be a statement made one way or the other and we would either go out there and do the very best we can and it'd be a positive or we could go out there and not compete and that would be the statement. One way or the other, there'd be a statement."
The statement made Friday was that the Runnin' Indians are more than capable of playing with some of the nation's best. Saturday is test No. 2.
Tickets for Saturday are $15, good for all five games and can be purchased at go.nationalhoopfest.com/tickets.
The full Saturday slate includes:
2 p.m. Chicago Simeon vs. JJ Pearce
3:30 p.m. Huntington Prep (WV) vs. Lancaster
5 p.m. South Garland vs. Sunrise Christian (KS)
6:30 p.m. Dematha (MD) vs. Denton-Guyer
8 p.m. IMG Academy (FL) vs. Waxahachie
PLAYERS TO WATCH
—Armando Bacot (2019) ESPN #18 - IMG Academy/ UNC commit
—Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (2019) ESPN #39 - IMG Academy/ Villanova commit
—Josh Green (2019) ESPN #9 - IMG Academy/ Arizona commit
—Terrence Shannon Jr. (2019) ESPN #96
—Lester Quinones (2019) ESPN #88 - IMG Academy
—Noah Farrakhan (2020) ESPN #36 - IMG Academy
—Jaden Springer (2020) ESPN #9 - IMG Academy
—Tyrese Maxey (2019) ESPN #8 - South Garland/Kentucky commit
—Jaemyn Brakefield (2020) ESPN #17 - Huntington Prep
—JT Thor (2021) ESPN #25 - Huntington Prep
—Hunter Dickerson (2020) ESPN #20 - DeMatha
—Earl Timberlake (2020) ESPN #35 - DeMatha
—Justin Moore (2019) ESPN #49 - DeMatha/Villanova commit
—Drew Timme (2019) ESPN #60 - JJ Pearce/Gonzaga commit
—De’Vion Harmon (2019) ESPN #52 - Denton Guyer/ OU commit
—Jalen Wilson (2019) ESPN #74 - Denton Guyer/ Michigan commit
—Malik Hall (2019) ESPN #51 - Sunrise Christian/ MSU commit
—LaTrayvion Jackson (2019) ESPN #57 - Sunrise Christian/Mizzou commit
—N’Faly Dante (2020) ESPN #12 - Sunrise Christian