By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 28, 2015) — On a team with a different leading scorer seemingly every night, perhaps Tuesday was just junior guard Kali Smith’s turn.
Whatever the logic, Smith caught fire the first time she came off the Stephenville bench and never cooled off, hitting 6-8 from the 3-point line to lead all scorers with 18 points and power the Honeybees past Brownwood 57-44 in a key District 6-4A rematch at Gandy Gym.
Stephenville avenged a 51-39 loss to Brownwood, leaving the teams tied for second in 6-4A behind Abilene Wylie.
“This was a real big win. We knew when they came to us we would beat them because it would be a totally different game,” said Smith, to which Stephenville head coach Alan Thorpe added, “It’s huge because it ties us for second. If we get the win over Wylie, we should come out second. If not, this guarantees us at least a tie (for second) as long as we take care of business in the other games.”
Smith’s 3-pointers always seemed to come right on time, and all six came with the help of an assist.
“It helped me a lot. I was already set up looking at the basket.” said Smith of the ball movement against Brownwood’s effective 2-3 zone defense. “I was just thinking I was going to make it every time.”
Smith hit two long balls a minute apart to give Stephenville a 21-20 lead over the Lady Lions in the second quarter, but her biggest shots came after halftime in a game that featured 10 lead changes and three ties.
Breanna Wooley may have hit the game’s most important shot, a 3-pointer to break a 35-35 tie and put Stephenville on top for good at the 2:53 mark of the third quarter. That bomb touched off a run of eight straight points by the Bees, ending with Smith’s third 3-pointer for a 43-35 lead.
Brownwood finished the third quarter scoring then cut it to 43-39 on its opening possession of the fourth, but Smith wasn’t even close to done.
Cassidy Cline drove through the heart of the defense and found Smith open at the arc twice in the opening minutes of the fourth, with her fifth 3-pointer of the night making it 49-42. Her last triple, on a kick out from Lyndi Graham, put a dagger in the Lady Lions as it pushed the advantage to 54-44 in the closing minutes.
“When you have a hot hand, feed the hot hand,” said Thorpe, who like Smith, was pleased with the ball movement offensively. “You’re a better 3-point shooter when the ball goes in the paint and coming out because you’re already looking at the basket.”
Cline was often the aggressor against Brownwood’s zone defense, and when she wasn’t distributing assists, the senior guard was drawing contact and getting to the stripe where she was 5-6 on her way to 14 points. Graham score eight for the Bees and Lariat Larner added five. Wooley, Bayleigh and Skylar Chipman added three each, while Bethanie Bouchey had two.
Stephenville closed the game on its second 8-0 run of the second half. Brownwood did not score over the final 4:32. against the Honeybees’ box-and-one defense that focused on limiting Trejouir Wilson.
Wilson still scored 15, but it was clear Brownwood was off-balance all night against the Bees’ new defensive look.
“We put that box-and-one on at the very end of practice (Monday),” said Thorpe. “We practiced it 15 minutes; I thought the kids executed it really, really well for as little as we practiced it.”
The box-and-one made a big difference, and with Smith leading the way, so did the Honeybee reserves.
“Our bench is good. (Smith is) our scorer, obviously, coming off the bench, the we have some good defensive players coming in and some big girls who come in and try to beat on people,” said Thorpe. “We have a good balance coming off there.”
The Bees are idle Friday, and Thorpe said Wednesday would be a much needed day off. They visit Mineral Wells next Tuesday.