So much for easing into the season.

Stephenville opens its 2010-11 girls basketball campaign against 5A Weatherford at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gandy Gym.

Weatherford was 23-6 in the state's largest classification last season, including a 10-2 district record before being eliminated by Arlington Martin in the opening round of the playoffs.

But Stephenville enters the new year on the heels of an exciting 2009-10 season as well. The Honeybees went 24-9 on their way to reaching the 4A regional quarterfinals where they were finally eliminated by eventual state champ Mansfield Timberview, which finished the season ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Four starters are gone from that team, and Thorpe says Saturday's test is just what his team needs.

"Weatherford is generally solid," Thorpe said. "They are a playoff team every year, and they'll come in and do a lot of good things. I don't know a lot about them because it's been a couple years since we played them, but I know enough to say this will be a good opening game for us, one that will show us where our weaknesses are so we can work on them."

Thorpe is more concerned with his own club than scouting opponents this early in the season.

"Until district gets here we just worry about what we do and make sure we do it well," he said. "I think games will take care of themselves if we just do what we do well."

Replacing last year's group of leaders that included current Tarleton State guard Brianna Bledsoe isn't easy, but Thorpe boasts of a strong group of newcomers, especially from the sophomore class.

One of those sophomores will be an opening-day starter Saturday, as Sheridan Stokes takes over the reigns at point guard.

Four-year letterwinner Alex Huckabee returns to the starting lineup and returns to her natural position as the two-guard. She spent much of last year playing the four-spot as Stephenville was short on interior players.

Kyndra Schouten returns as the Bees' top defensive stopper and will start at the three.

Down low, the Bees should be stronger this season. Becca Emmons and Gaby Lazarine are both returning letterwinners who will start at the four and five spots, and Thorpe says there is more depth around them than before.

"I think we'll be pretty solid everywhere," he said. "Last year we were so guard-oriented. Our biggest threat was shooting the 3-pointer. This year we'll have much more of an inside threat to go along with that."

Thorpe says the opening-day starting lineup is merely a starting point that is subject to change as the year unfolds.

"In the second game it may all change," he said. "I have a couple kids not starting Saturday who are very capable of starting. It's just a process. We have to see which group clicks the best."

Note: Stephenville's sub-varsity high school teams are also tipping off their seasons Saturday morning. Two freshmen games will be played in the SHS auxiliary gym beginning at 9:30 a.m. The JV contest is in Gandy Gym at 10:30 a.m.