Alan Thorpe, longtime head girls basketball coach of the Stephenville High School Honeybees, reached a major landmark Tuesday with the 500th victory of his high school coaching career.
The state-ranked Honeybees defeated Waxahachie Life School 63-42 to open District 8-4A play at home in Gandy Gym.
Jayci Morton paced the Honeybees' offense with 26 points. Teammate Payton Wall added 10 points, and Tesslie Baker added 8.
SHS improved to 9-6 on the season and is ranked No. 9 in the state in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll.
Thorpe’s 22-year coaching career — all with girls teams — has now included 18 seasons leading Stephenville.
Thorpe said that nailing down the 500th victory felt special, but was glad to get it over with.
“The kids kept telling me, so I knew it was coming up,” Thorpe said.
He noted that his 400th win came four years ago.
When asked if he thought when he began his coaching career that he would eventually reach the 500-win level, Thorpe said, “Absolutely not. I was really happy when I got my 100th win, then the 300th and 400th. You don’t really expect 500.”
Thorpe left Stephenville for four seasons, recording coaching stints in Burnet and Justin Northwest, before returning to the Honeybees.
Thorpe’s 2012-2013 season was his most successful campaign with the Honeybees. They reached the regional final, where they were eliminated by Kennedale with a three-point loss. Kennedale reached the state championship game that season.
Last season marked the fifth time Thorpe has taken the SHS girls to the regional semifinals. The Honeybees reached the regional seminfinal round before being eliminated by seventh-ranked Levelland and finishing with a 27-8 season mark.
Thorpe said his coaching style has evolved over the years.
“It has changed a little bit,” he said. “We push the ball a little more now. We’ve always played man defense. I’m pretty hard-headed about that.”
In the win over Waxahachie Life, Morton sank a pair of 3-point shots in the opening quarter, helping the hot-shootinig Honeybees race to a 19-0 lead. Stephenville sank seven of its first nine shots.
The Lady Mustangs finally managed to score four points late in the quarter.
Life rallied starting in the second quarter, and trailed only 33-22 at halftime.
The Honeybees saw their lead shrink to 11 points again in the third quarter. SHS held off the rally by outscoring Life 15-11 overall in the third quarter and 15-9 in the fourth.
“I don’t know if anybody’s going to go through this district undefeated, so it was good to get a win,” said Thorpe, whose squad was runner-up last season with a 10-2 district mark, and the players have been talking about going 12-0 this time.
The Honeybees’ next game will be another district contest, Tuesday at Glen Rose. The varsity game is set for 6 p.m.
There had been a game set for Dec. 15 against Tuscola Jim Ned, but that was canceled because of Friday’s state football semifinal playoff game between Stephenville and Kennedale.