Stephenville saw a large early lead disappear, but had enough gas left in the tank to edge host Abilene Wylie 57-51 for its first win of the season Tuesday night.
Seven straight Wylie points tied the contest at 44-44 just past the midway point of the fourth, but the 3A Bulldogs never led and Stephenville came back to life in the closing moments.
"We were a little down, a little disappointed (when Wylie tied the game)," said Stephenville head coach Mike Dacus. "(Our players) had kind of a 'we messed up' attitude, and we did. We had some unforced turnovers. We had 22 turnovers on the night and a lot of them were our fault, throwing passes away and things like that.
"But I really never had any doubt we would win the game," he continued. "We just made it a little harder than it should've been."
Cody Stevens was 11-14 at the free throw line and led all scorers with 19 points for Stephenville. No charity shots were bigger than the two he hit to put the Jackets on top 46-44.
"Well he was 8-8 from the free throw in the fourth quarter," said Dacus. "That was big for us. They were scrambling defensively and leaving Cody (Stevens) wide open and they had to foul him. Also, he had 11 rebounds for us and Josh Jenkins had seven. I was real pleased with the job those guys did working the glass."
The outcome was still in doubt until Justin Lanham drilled a dagger three for a four-point lead and the Jackets hit six straight free throws down the stretch to seal the deal. The Jackets were an impressive 16-21 (76.2 percent) at the line.
Stephenville freshman Juder Stidham joined Stevens in double figures with 10 points. Other Yellow Jacket scorers were Josh Jenkins with eight, Lanham and Brian Picha with seven each, Dalton Griffin with four and Aiavion Edwards with two.
Wylie was led by Daxton Deal with 18 points, while Travis Taillet, who fouled out late, had 16. Lance Lindley scored 10.
The intense final moments came after a big Wylie comeback. The Jackets scored the game's first 13 points and led 20-4 at the end of the first.
The Bulldogs made it a three-point game at halftime before the momentum swayed back and forth in the second half. Wylie scored the final seven points of the third to cut the Stephenville lead to 37-35. The Jackets answered with a 7-2 push to begin the fourth before the Bulldogs came back to knot the score at 44-44.