By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 16, 2017) — Standing in the way of an eighth straight area championship for the Stephenville Honeybees is an all too familiar foe in the Brownwood Lady Lions.
The No. 10 Bees (24-7) and No. 15 Lady Lions (24-8) meet in Hamilton at 6 p.m. Friday in a Region I-4A area playoff, a round Stephenville has advanced past every year since 2009, the second season of head coach Alan Thorpe’s second successful stint at SHS.
The winner meets Burkburnett or Glen Rose in the regional quarterfinals. Burkburnett is no playoff stranger to Stephenville, and Glen Rose, of course, is a rival from District 8-4A.
The Lady Lions eliminated Stephenville in the regional quarterfinals at Hamilton last year, and exacting revenge for the Honeybees won’t be easy against a Lady Lions squad that has won nine straight and was champions of District 5-4A.
Each of the rivals dominated their bi-district foes, with 8-4A runner-up Stephenville thrashing Springtown, 64-25, and Brownwood eliminating Iowa Park, 36-19.
“By one,” joked Thorpe when asked how he plans to beat the Lady Lions for a ninth straight trip to the regional quarterfinals. “They’re very good and playing with a lot of confidence right now. We went and saw them play (Tuesday) and you cold see why they have won nine straight games and a district championship.”
With last year’s Lady Lion star, Trejouir Wilson, now competing for Tarleton State University, the Honeybees will be playing particular close attention to Sage Cupps and Mallory Garcia this time around. Cupps score 13 and Garcia 10 in the bi-district round, according to an article published by the Brownwoood Bulletin.
“They have a couple good shooters and they play great team defense, that’s always a good combination,” he added. “We’re going to have to play well if we want to get past them.”
Stephenville was led in its ninth straight bi-district win by Jayci Morton, a sophomore, with 19 points, while junior Hailey Martin added 11. They and the rest of the Bees will be taking on an extended zone that Thorpe says appears to be a 1-2-2 as much as a 2-3 look, stretching wide to defend outside shooters.
“We have to be hitting our shots, we won’t get as many easy transition buckets from our defense as we did against Springtown,” said Thorpe. “But we do need to get some of those. It seems like that’s when we really get going offensively is when a couple of those turnovers turned into layups gets the energy and the confidence up.”
Thorpe said his coaching staff doesn’t have to remind the Bees about the playoff loss to Brownwood last season.
“I mean, we’ll throw it out there, as if they don’t remember it,” he laughed. Pretty much you say it’s Brownwood, and for Stephenville, that’s all it takes. We’re excited to get the opportunity to play them and we’ll go give it our best shot.”