Stephenville (0-1) was shorthanded in its lineup and fell just short on the scoreboard in its boys basketball opener at Azle Tuesday night.
Azle (1-0) built a 12-point third-quarter lead and held off a late Yellow Jacket rally to win 50-47.
“I was afraid they were going to get away from us in the third quarter, but we kept it close and made a little run at the end of the fourth,” Stephenville head coach Mike Dacus said. “We had the ball with a chance to tie it at the end, we just couldn’t get it done.”
The Jackets dressed just seven players for the game, two of them sophomores and one a freshman. Still, they had their chances.
Stephenville was just 7-15 at the free throw line including five misses in the fourth.
“If we hit our free throws we win the game,” Dacus said. “That’s normal at the beginning of the season. The kids’ legs are dead and you have to use your legs when you shoot.”
Brian Picha suffered a bloody nose while Justin Lanham had cramps in his calf muscles during the game, leaving the Jackets with only five players at one point. Sophomore Josh Jenkins was forced to play all 32 minutes.
Cody Stevens led Stephenville with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, while Jenkins scored 11 and grabbed eight boards and Lanham tallied 10 points to go with three assists and two steals.
Others contributing for the Jackets were Dalton Griffin with eight points and Juder Stidham and Picha with three each.
“I think it’s a positive that we hung with a good team on the road with only seven guys,” Dacus said. “The effort was there the whole game and we proved we could hang with a team of high caliber.”
Dacus says his club will get a big roster boost whenever Stephenville’s football playoff run comes to an end. Tyler Floyd, Aiavion Edwards, Keaton Trinkle and Kody Travis are four players he expects to add to the varsity roster.
“There might even be a couple starters in that group,” he said.
Stephenville hosts White Settlement Brewer on Monday.