New-look Runnin’ Indians hit hardwood

Height, guard experience lead young WHS roster into hoops season following amazing ’20-’21 run

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Waxahachie point guard Prince Banks (5) is fouled on his way to the basket during a game at Mike Turner Gymnasium last season. Banks, a senior, returns to help lead a Runnin' Indian state quarterfinalist team that lost three NCAA Division I players to graduation.

Last season’s No. 1 state ranking and Class 6A Region II final appearance are tough acts to follow for the Waxahachie Runnin’ Indians, but head coach Greg Gober always seems to find a way to have a state-contending roster ready to go.

The Runnin’ Indians, who begin the 2021-2022 season unranked by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, were scheduled to tip off the regular season on Friday night by traveling to Mansfield Legacy for a neutral-site game against Lewisville. They will also face Class 6A preseason No. 4-ranked McKinney in the Cowtown Tip-Off at North Crowley High School on Saturday.

In what was almost certainly the most important home game ever played in any sport at WHS, the then-No. 1 Runnin’ Indians hosted No. 2 Duncanville in a region championship game on March 5 at a Mike Turner Gymnasium stuffed to the rafters. The game sold out in one minute online.

The Runnin’ Indians rallied from a huge halftime deficit with a 15-0 run, but couldn’t get over the hump in a 70-65 loss to the Panthers. The Indians (20-3) finished the year with their deepest advance as a Class 6A school and their first regional final appearance since 2018, while Duncanville (29-1, with the loss coming against the Tribe in district play on Jan. 9) went on to win the state championship.

Gone from last year’s WHS squad are nine graduated seniors, including three NCAA Division I signees: CJ Noland, who now plays basketball at Oklahoma; Jalen Lake, who signed with Colorado State; and Montez Young, who inked with Texas-Arlington.

But this year’s Indian roster also has a different look because of its height.

Junior Darkaun King was the tallest player on the team last year at 6-foot-6, but he is now joined by 6-7 senior Devyn Franklin and 6-9 freshman Parker Jefferson to provide an imposing lineup if and when the Indians decide to go “big.”

Experienced senior guards Prince Banks, V’Zarion Roberson, Jordan Davis and Kambren Drummer return for the Runnin’ Indians, and they will be joined by Jaylen Butler and Joseph Lankford. Other members of the varsity team at the outset are juniors Andreas Lane and Justin Bohannon, sophomore Shawn Blakemore, and freshman Kason Brown.

Following this weekend’s openers, the Runnin’ Indians will travel to 5A No. 5-ranked Lancaster on Nov. 19 and will compete once again in the Dallas Mavericks Tournament hosted by Frisco ISD on Nov. 22-24, just before Thanksgiving.

The first home game for the Runnin’ Indians won’t be until Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. against Keller. District 11-6A play begins Dec. 21 at Waco Midway.