Once again, Stephenville was close. But once again, the 3A Region I champion stopped the Honeybees from advancing deeper into the state playoffs.
This time it was Abilene Wylie which won the regional tournament at Texas Tech's United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, and it was in the regional semifinals where the Honeybees' season met its end.
Senior guard Tiara Green scored 12 in her final game, but it wasn't enough as Wylie distanced itself from Stephenville in the second half of a 54-36 win. The Lady Bulldogs beat Shallowater on Saturday for the regional crown and a trip to next weekend's state tournament.
The Bees went one step farther last year, winning their regional semifinal over Perryton before falling to Kennedale in the regional final.
On Friday, Stephenville overcame a slow start to trail by just four, 26-22, at the intermission.
"We played really well, especially in the second quarter," said Stephenville head coach Alan Thorpe, who has guided the Bees to back-to-back district championships, five straight bi-district and area crowns and now consecutive Sweet 16s. "We missed a couple shots I'd like to have back, but we played great defense and that's what kept us in it for a while."
The Bees were outscored by six in the third to face a double-digit deficit entering the fourth. Then depth became a factor, especially with Stephenville sophomore guard Bayleigh Chaviers out with an illness.
"It was tough any way, but it was especially tough not having everyone," said Thorpe, Not having Bayleigh took away from some of what we wanted to do, especially defensively. That, and the girls had to work so hard with us down a player that we just wore down, especially in the fourth quarter."
Junior guard Cassidy Cline scored eight and averaged 14.8 in the playoffs. Senior Dally Friedrich had six in her final game, while Breanna Wooley added five, Lariat Larner three and Kourtney Seaton two.
Green, Friedrich, Autumn Kidwell and Chrislyn Wells are Stephenville's four seniors.
"You always hate to let them go," said Thorpe of the seniors. "They are all great kids, and Dally and T (Green) have been with us for a long time, so they'll be hard to replace.
"I'm proud of all the girls," he added. "We overcame a lot this year and managed to have a great season."