By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
The rematch between two state-ranked 6A powers went to the home team Tuesday night in Waxahachie. It also provided a sting of defeat not previously felt by the tenth-ranked Grand Prairie Gophers.
The 17th-ranked Runnin’ Indians ultimately outscored the visiting Gophers 22-12 in the fourth quarter for 68-51 victory.
Waxahachie improved to 26-6 on the season and, more importantly, 8-3 in District 7-6A with the victory. Grand Prairie, which has still yet to mathematically clinch an outright 7-6A title, now sits at 23-2 on the season and 10-1 in district play.
Four Runnin’ Indians did all of the scoring Tuesday, led by senior guard BJ Francis and his 23 points. Eleven of those points came in the second half.
CJ Noland finished the evening 9-of-11 from the charity stripe for 19 points, while Jalen Lake added 15 points and AJ Russ had 11.
Donald Ghostone led the Gophers with 15 points. Jaylin Posey and Savion Red each chipped in 12. The three combined for just five points in the fourth quarter after pouring in 14 in the third.
HOW THE TRIBE PUT IT AWAY
Waxahachie began the game with a 22-point outburst in the first quarter, only to go cold in the second and leave the floor clinging to a 30-23 first-half advantage.
The Runnin’ Indians’ seven-point lead was quickly cut to one, 37-36, early in the third quarter.
A few messy possessions later, Noland laid home two points in transition as the third-quarter clock dipped under three minutes.
After another Grand Prairie turnover, Lake then found Noland underneath the basket to extend the lead back to three. Russ followed by capitalizing on a Gopher turnover with a trey from the left-wing and Francis added a fast-break layup for a 46-38 Waxahachie lead with 18 seconds showing in the third quarter.
Grand Prairie eventually added a free throw to send the game into the fourth quarter with the Runnin’ Indians up seven — the same advantage they’d entered the frame with.
The Gophers opened the final frame on a 5-1 run that carried into a Noland bucket from the right block with 5:43 to play. The score put Waxahachie up 49-44 and eventually led to a Grand Prairie timeout with 5:20 showing.
A two-handed jam by Lake followed by a pair of easy layups for Francis — made possible by perfect outlet passes by Noland — brought the capacity crowd to its feet in Mike Turner Gymnasium.
The 6-0 Waxahachie run over 1:24 of game time also forced a second Gopher timeout, this time with the Runnin’ Indians up 57-49 with 3:08 to play.
Following the timeout, Francis bodied a foul in the paint, got the bucket to go and converted the and-one to put Waxahachie ahead comfortably, 60-49.
Lake quickly added another layup for good measure and a 13-point lead.
As the clock ran under 20 seconds, the Waxahachie fandom countered the Grand Prairie chants of “We won district” with a hit song from 1969.
The timeless pop hit originally performed by Steam cordially informed the Gophers that it was time to leave.
“Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!”
With the chants from both sides continuing, Waxahachie completed the defense of its home court in dominant fashion, 68-51.
In other District 7-6A action:
No. 13 South Grand Prairie defeated Cedar Hill, 90-72.
No. 13 DeSoto edged Mansfield Summit, 59-53.
Mansfield Lake Ridge defeated Mansfield, 56-45.
The district standings now look like this:
Grand Prairie (10-1)
South Grand Prairie (8-3)
(e) Cedar Hill (3-8)
(e). Mansfield (3-8)
(e). Summit (3-8)
(e). Lake Ridge (2-9)
The Runnin’ Indians will face Mansfield Summit at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Mansfield and then return home to host South Grand Prairie at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18. The Tribe will celebrate its seniors before the game against the Warriors next Tuesday, which is also the final regular-season tilt.