By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 2, 2016) — Stephenville returned to Gandy Gym and to more level all-4A competition Saturday, blowing out Springtown, 71-32, behind 21 points by senior shooting guard Kali Smith.
A 24-2 first-half run the put the Honeybees in control and they stayed that way all afternoon. They take aim at a third straight victory in their final pre-district tuneup at Robinson Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m.
Smith 14 in the first half with eight coming during the big run. The Honeybees were balanced behind her with freshman Jayci Morton scoring 11, Liz Pack nine, Bayleigh Chaviers and Skylar Chipman eight each, Mikayla Hobbs six in her return from a long absence due to illness, Payton Wall five and Emily Brandon four.
“I feel like we’re shooting the ball well and we’re getting pressure defensively,” said Thorpe, who thought his team played well even while going 1-3 in the prestigious Mansfield ISD Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational earlier in the week.
Stephenville lost in the tournament to Arkansas 7A Springdale Har-Ber and Texas 6As Arlington Lamar and Wylie before beating 6A Mansfield.
“We played really well in a couple of those games and pretty well in all but a quarter of the other two,” Thorpe said. “Those were good teams and they show you what you have to work on and we did that. I thought we put together a pretty good four quarters today and that’s what we have to start doing with district starting next week.”
After visiting Robinson, the Honeybees begin 6-4A play at home against Brownwood on Friday.
Smith was on fire from the start, hitting three first-quarter 3-pointers including two during a 19-2 run that powered Stephenville to a 24-8 lead at the end of one. Pack scored the final five points of the run, coming off the bench to turn an offensive rebound into an ‘And-1’ for three points and scoring on another put back just before the buzzer.
The run continued early in the second on a 3-point play inside by Hobbs and a basket inside by Pack while Springtown committed turnovers on its opening four possessions of the period.
Springtown did finally contact on a 3-pointer with 4:57 remaining in the second, its first field goal in about six minutes going back to the first. The deep ball touched off a brief 7-1 run that closed it to 30-15, and ultimately got within 33-19 with 2:16 left in the half.
But Smith ripped the chords of the net with her fourth 3-pointer at the 1:20 mark, Skylar Chipman buried her second with 37 seconds left and Smith lost her defender underneath for a bucket in the paint in the closing seconds for an 8-0 run and a 41-19 Stephenville lead at intermission.
Springtown scored the opening bucket in the second half but could get no closer, trailing by at least 20 the whole way. Smith finished her scoring with back-to-back layups in the final minutes of the third and a 3-pointer early in the fourth.