Stephenville wasted no time jumping right back into the fire after a brief Christmas break, matching up with Cibolo Steele in a high-profile first-round game at the Mansfield Rotary Tournament Monday.
Steele, ranked No. 2 in 4A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association and No. 4 by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, used a jump shot with three seconds remaining clip the Honeybees 52-50 in an overtime thriller.
Stephenville, ranked No. 11 by the TABC and No. 13 by the TGCA, led by as many as seven early on, and trailed by as many as eight in a back and forth contest that stayed within two or three points most of the way.
The Bees, who saw their six-game win streak snapped, had opportunities at the end of both regulation and overtime, but potential game winning shots just missed the mark both times.
Alex Huckabee was just off with a deep shot attempt in the waning seconds of regulation. Kelsey Evans then missed a put back and the game remained tied at 48-48.
“(Alex) had a good look at it. I sure thought it was going in when it left her hands,” Stephenville head coach Alan Thorpe said. “We were that close.”
Evans had another attempt in overtime, but was forced to try an off-balanced runner that didn’t go before Steele hit the winning jumper at the other end.
The Honeybees led 13-6 after the first quarter but saw the advantage disappear when Steele rolled through the second period 14-6 for a 20-19 halftime edge. The Bees trailed 32-29 before the scoring pace peaked in a 35-point fourth quarter. Stephenville won the fourth 19-16 to force the overtime.
Brianna Bledsoe led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Huckabee with 14. Evans was also in double figures with 10 while Mara Christian added five and Gaby Lazarine had two.
“We played a good game. I thought we were real impressive considering we were fresh off the Christmas break,” Thorpe said. “We ran the ball well. We got a little tired near the end, but we weren’t as gassed as you would have expected after five days off.”
Steele was the seventh state-ranked team the battle-tested Honeybees have faced this season. They are now 5-2 in those games, including 3-1 in either road or neutral court situations.
Stephenville continued tournament play Monday night and also hits the court today. See the Wednesday edition of the Empire-Tribune for a complete report.