23 POINTS: Withers’ hot hand paces Bees to District 6-4A championship

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No. 6 Stephenville shook off a first-half funk and dominated the final 16 minutes as the Honey Bees claimed the District 6-4A championship with a 45-27 win against Brownwood at Gandy Gym Friday.

On a night honoring seniors and player’s parents, the heavily favored Bees didn’t fail to disappoint, but not before giving fans a little bit of a scare as they led just 14-12 at halftime.

Landri Withers pumped in 23 points to lead all scorers. Photo by Russell huffman

Things started at a slow pace for both teams as neither squad’s defense was inclined to give up points in the first quarter as Landri Withers scored three points and Alee McClendon added a bucket to give Stephenville a 5-1 lead after eight minutes of play.

The Lady Lions climbed back into the contest with an 11-9 second-quarter advantage, and for Coach Jason Hodges it was about keeping the Bees focused and not allowing a panic.

“I didn’t say anything that I normally don’t say in the locker room,” Hodges said. “I thought we played a great defensive first half in allowing just 12 points. We gave up just one point in the first quarter! We did play a little tight, and people need to realize we are a young team (3 seniors), and some of these kids haven’t been in this position before.”

Despite being doubled-teamed Alee McClendon came away with nine points.

The Bees have achieved a season-long run ranked among Class 4-A top ten teams, and with a 20-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in district play look pretty scary as they head into the playoffs.

How scary?

Withers scored 23 points to lead all scorers against Brownwood.

Freshman Mya Wesley came off the bench against Gatesville Tuesday to score 30 points.

The Bees’ only losses have been to higher-ranked teams on nights Stephenville couldn’t buy a basket or find a foul to get to the free-throw line.

The Bees have plenty more examples of their players taking over a game to include the rebounding strength and defense of McClendon in the paint, Mya Wilson’s court awareness, Jade Wilson’s offensive aggression, and Jaylee Matthews’ perimeter game.

Plainly put, Stephenville has lots of weapons, and the key to making a long playoff run is different players stepping up when needed.

If you want to know the real lowdown on the Bees, they have the potential to be “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” scary.

Mya Wilson had an 11-point night for the Bees.

Their win over Brownwood being a prime example as just four players put up enough points to beat the Lady Lions by 18 points. Mya Wilson scored 11, McClendon had 9, and Jade Wilson 2 behind Withers’ aforementioned 23 points.

Truthfully, Stephenville hasn’t come close to putting together a true “A+” but the last couple of weeks have certainly shown the Bees’ multi-prong attack can be a steam-roller.

So what are some of the things Hodges tells his players at halftime?

“We just told them to calm down and not to panic. Do what we do and be patient, and everything will work itself out. Our defense will win the game. We shut them out in the third quarter, which was huge. If we hold teams to 27 points and we are going to win a lot of ball games.

That was the case in the third quarter against Brownwood as the Bees took command for good with a 14-0 run and left the Lady Lions scoreless in the frame.

The fourth quarter was just a matter of keeping pace and not suffering any injuries to close out the game with a 17-15 advantage over the last eight minutes.

Up next?

Stephenville will matchup against Wichita Falls Hirschi after the Lady Huskies (5-13, 4-6) finished fourth in District 5-4A, with the matchup set for Thursday in Mineral Wells at 7:30 p.m.

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