By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 17, 2017) — On a night when not much else went right, Jayci Morton was right on.
Especially from the free throw stripe.
Time and again, Morton went on the attack, drew contact – often heavy contact – and buried free throws. The sophomore guard finished 16-18 from the stripe with 27 total points and No. 11 Stephenville (20-6, 5-1) needed every one of them to survive 26 turnovers and porous shooting in a 57-53 win over upset-minded Waxahachie Life (6-20, 1-5) Tuesday at Gandy Gym.
Stephenville secured its eighth straight 20-win season and remains alone in second place in 8-4A a game behind district-leader Godley. The Honeybees are off Friday and visit Glen Rose at 6:15 p.m. next Tuesday, January 24.
Stephenville led 7-2 until nine straight points in what ultimately was an extended 18-4 run by Life for a 20-11 lead. The Honeybees had a stretch of four straight turnovers that led to six quick points by Life near the end of the first quarter, when it was 11-7, and the same continued early in the second.
The Honeybees scored seven straight to pull within 20-18, and were down 23-20 at intermission.
Stephenville didn’t lead, however, until an ‘And-1’ play by, who else, Morton. The versatile sophomore banked in a driving runner through contact and added the foul shot to give the Bees a 30-29 edge with 1:29 remaining in the third.
Life led after consecutive transition layups, but Payton Wall had the next Stephenville answer, burying consecutive mid-range jumpers from the right side, the last a 17 footer just before the buzzer to put the Bees on top, 34-33, entering the fourth.
Morton opened the fourth with a bucket, and later hit the only Stephenville 3-pointer of the night to make it 39-35. Morton assisted on a bucket by Carter, then had the junior point guard return the favor for a layup of her own and a 43-36 lead with 4:38 remaining.
Life crept within two after a couple 3-pointers, its second and third in the game as the teams combined for just four successful attempts from the arc. It was a two-point game again moments later after a bucket by Morton on one end and a Life layup off an inbound pass at the other.
But the Bees put it away a stretch of eight straight points. Morton, of course, began the run with two free throws, then Pack and Wall each hit two before freshman guard Madison Carter found Tesslie Baker behind the defense with a long transition pass, and Baker’s layup finished the run and Stephenville’s scoring with a 10-point lead.
Life buried a long 3 at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late.
Wall scored 10 for Stephenville, including eight in the second half. Pack also scored 10, Jordan Carter eight and Baker two.
The Honeybees were shorthanded with Hailey Martin ill. Hannah Bernays and Madison Gilder each moved up from the junior varsity team saw brief action in her stead.