Stephenville threw a scare into Hirschi, but the 22-5 Huskies dominated the second half in a 61-43 bi-district contest that was overshadowed by a Yellow Jacket player’s injury.
The Jackets (15-11) played devastating defense in the first half as they outrebounded the Huskies (22-5) on defense and created a slew of turnovers. Stephenville established a 16-10 first-quarter lead as Trace Morrison led all scorers in the stanza with eight points.
The Huskies would push back in the second frame and narrowed the score to 16-14 before a Grayson Traweek three-pointer, and a Coy Eakin basket gave Stephenville its biggest lead of the game at 22-14.
Hirschi eased its way back into a 22-22 tie at the half with a 6-0 run, and the short burst became the tempo of the game as the Huskies opened up their offense. It didn’t help that after a rough-and-tumble first half, the Jackets were getting called for fouls.
Hampered by several questionable calls on defense, the Jackets couldn’t get their offense rolling, and Hirschi began a slow climb toward victory.
How did Coach Kia McCarty keep his team from getting frustrated by the lack of foul calls?
“We live and preach about trying to control the ‘control-ables,’ and we turn our head away from those things that we can’t control,” McCarty said.
With 3:55 remaining in the third quarter, it was still a close game at 31-27, but the Huskies went on a 7-2 run to make it a 10-point game at 39-29
The Jackets still had a chance; however, a frightening-looking injury to Kallen Kimbrough down under the Stephenville basket completely sidetracked the team.
Kimbrough went down hard face first and didn’t move as he wept in pain. Officials immediately sprang into action, and as it became apparent, Kimbrough had suffered what appeared to be a debilitating injury the minutes ticked by at an agonizingly slow pace.
There were no emergency medical personnel on-site, and it was a good 15-20 minutes before their arrival. Kimbrough was put into a neck brace, and his injury was treated as if he had suffered a neck or spinal injury.
The Jackets and coaching staff surrounded Kimbrough in a circle and said the Lord’s Prayer before being taken away by ambulance.
Showing his fighting spirit all the way, Kimbrough raised his right hand and gave the crowd a “thumb up.”
(Fortunately, it was later learned that Kimbrough, who had suffered numbness in his legs, was released from the Palo Pinto County Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery)
While they may have been trailing by just ten points, it was a different team that hit the floor for the remainder of the contest, and it was evident that the injury had thrown the Jackets off track.
“It wasn’t due to a lack of effort!” McCarty said. “My guys battled and gave 110 percent effort just like they have in every game all season. Unfortunately, effort isn’t always the thing that wins basketball games.”
Stephenville managed 14 fourth-quarter points as Morrison led the way with six of the Jackets’ points.
Morrison’s lead in scoring 16 points was followed by Traweek with 12, Kyle Styron 5, Coy Eakin 6, Tanner McCailey 3, Kimbrough 1.
“There’s not enough time or space in your article to talk about our 11 seniors to talk enough about those guys,” McCarty said. “They laid the blueprint in year-one even though it is year four for them now. Everyone here is better off because of them. These guys all have great futures ahead of them because they aren’t going to let anything stop them.”