By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 2, 2018) — Alan Thorpe has spent 18 of the past 22 seasons as head coach of the Stephenville girls and says he can’t recall a single Honeybee recording a double-double in her varsity debut.
It may have happened Tuesday, when the Bees (11-10, 2-1) cruised to a 40-25 District 8-4A win over Venus (18-9, 2-2) at Gandy Gym.
Freshman Alee McClendon scored 10 points and collected a slew of rebounds. Thorpe, whose staff only tracks scoring and fouls in real time, says he can’t confirm it until watching film Wednesday, but believes McClendon may also have reached double-figures in rebounds for what would be a historic double-double.
“She’s 6 feet tall, she runs on the mile relay and she makes those little underneath shots when she gets them,” said Thorpe. “What else do you need to know?”
The visiting team may have been from Venus, but McClendon didn’t just drop in from another planet. Thorpe and staff knew what was coming with the freshman, but have been gauging the right time to call her up from the sub-varsity ranks.
“We were trying to hold her back for a little bit and let her develop on the JV and get ready for this level, but whether she’s fully ready or not we decided we needed her, mainly for rebounding,” Thorpe said. “You can see right away where her athleticism helps us inside. If she will just rebound like that I’ll be happy, but for her to also score 10 points, that really elevates our inside game and magnifies what her presence means for us.”
McClendon was the new face added to the usual suspects doing damage for Stephenville, which led 10-9 after the first quarter and 13-12 at intermission before a 13-2 run broke it open in the third.
“Over the middle two quarters we give up five points. I know part of that is them going cold shooting the ball, but we were playing some good defense, too, and that’s always what we hang our hat on is our defense,” said Thorpe. “That got us going offensively, which is kind of what we count on. We score 13 in the whole first half then get 13 in the third quarter so you can see we definitely picked it up.”
Venus led 5-4 before a 3-pointer by Stephenville point guard Jordan Carter. The Bees led by five before the Bulldogs scored the final four of the first, cutting the Stephenville lead to 10-9.
The second was ugly from an offensive perspective with only 3 points by each side. Nobody scored in the first four minutes of the second, then Morton finally connected on a rebound and put back with 3:50 left in the half. Venus responded with a rare hit from outside the arc, making it 12-12, and then the offensive lull resumed with not field goals and only one Stephenville free throw going down before halftime.
For Venus that lull continued throughout the third, but not for Stephenville. McClendon got going and Morton kept rolling straight through the opening moments of the fourth, which she opened with a 3 for a 29-14 lead off an inbound from Payton Wall following a tie-ball.
The lead was at least 13 the rest of the way as Stephenville earned a half-game lead and the head-to-head advantage over the Bulldogs. The Bees continue 8-4A play at district-leading Midlothian Heritage Friday, beginning at 6 p.m.
Stephenville received additional scoring contributions from Hailey Martin with 5, Jordan Carter 5, Madison Gilder 2, Payton Wall 2, Hannah Bernays 2 and Tesslie Baker 1.
Venus standouts Peyton Willey (13.0) and Brooke Habeck (14.0), both juniors, were combining for 27 points per game before Willey netted just 8 and Habeck 6, four of them in the fourth quarter with the outcome already determined.
Venus was 3-for-25 from outside the arc.