By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 6, 2018) — Stephenville finally reached the top of its climb up mount :Godley at last beating the Lady Cats right on time to secure third place and relegate their recent nemesis to fourth in District 8-4A.
It came down to defense, but that’s fine with Stephenville head coach Alan Thorpe, who builds his team on that any way.
Thorpe let loose a fist pump and Honeybees on the court and up and down the bench and even the state champion Bees of 1968 and coach Sammy Taylor – they were recognized again 50 years after the only state championship Stephenville has ever won in the sport – celebrated a 37-35 win an off-balanced runner by Godley hit rim and glass but fell away and Jayci Morton collected the rebound and held the ball high until the horn set off the post game frenzy.
“We told them, if they get a shot, make sure it’s only one shot,” said Thorpe of his instructions while calling for a man-to-man defense in the final defensive huddle of a joyous evening at a packed gym filled with fans who got rowdy and raucous on both sides.
Godley did get a shot, and Morton made sure it was only one.
“Our defense was great right there, and I really thought we played great defensively the entire ball game,” Thorpe said.
Godley defeated Stephenville in a non-district tournament contest and won their first 8-4A meeting on the Lady Cats’ home court. Stephenville locked up third place and relegated Godley to fourth by returning the favor.
“Our district is so tough. We feel like we are higher than third-place worthy, and I feel like Godley could very well knock off Kennedale (the champion of District 7-4A) and that we have a chance to have all four teams win first-round games.”
Stephenville will face Mineral Wells, the 7-4A runner-up in a Region I-4A bi-district contest with details to be announced.
Offense does count, too, particularly when points, always at a premium between these two, are finally scored.
Jordan Carter scored arguably the biggest three of the evening with a 3-pointer to made it 36-30 approaching the 3-minute mark.
“We knew both teams could shoot it, but then in the first half they were just 1-for-8. Then they come out and were 50 percent in the second half,” said Thorpe. “Jordan’s obviously was crucial, and she could have had more. She was open on that all night, we just weren’t getting it to her.”
Until it mattered most, when the senior took the pass standing about eight feet in front of the middle of the Honeybee bench when she lofted the 3 that ultimately made the difference.
Godley had a big hill to climb after problems handling the Honeybee press – 10 turnovers before halftime – were compounded by poor shooting and Stephenville built a sizeable 22-10 margin by the time the teams trudged off the court to make their locker room adjustments.
One thing Stephenville didn’t adjust was defensive changeup Thorpe had his team throw at the Lady Cats, switching off every screen instead of trapping every screen.
“I thought that worked great. They had a plan for one thing, but they didn’t for another, so it took them out of their rhythm just enough,” said Thorpe. “When you’re in such a close game, subtle changes like that sometimes become glaring.”
Godley got back in the game with two quick 3-pointers to begin the second half, pulling within 25-16 on its way to trailing just 28-23 after the Honeybees had to once again endure a full quarter of poor offense, a disturbing trend of this team with the playoffs fast approaching.
Godley hit two more a little more spread out to begin the fourth, pulling within two each time as Jayci Morton buried one from the top of the key in between them.
Carter’s 3-pointer stood up for the Bees even though it wasn’t the last big triple. Godley was in it until the end because of a top-of-the-key 3 by Sierra Lenz-Ross. She led the Lady Cats with 11.
Hailey Martin buried three second-quarter 3-pointers to contribute significantly to the Bees leading by a dozen at halftime. Martin led all scorers with 13 points. Morton scored 7, Carter 6, Payton Wall 5, Tesslie Baker 3, Madison Gilder 2 and Alee McClendon 1.