It was just another day at the office for the sixth-ranked Stephenville Honeybees basketball team Tuesday at home in a 43-29 girls basketball victory Venus — with players stepping up as usual in the absence of a starter.

Jayci Morton, a 5-10 senior forward who recently signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball for Tarleton State University, is still sidelined with a sprained knee (ACL). A doctor was scheduled to re-evaluate her status soon to determine when she can return to the court.

Another of the leading scorers for SHS, senior forward Hannah Bernays, fouled out of the Venus game with more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But with those two key players not in the game in the end, junior guard Kassidy Nowak recorded her best-ever varsity offensive performance against Venus, scoring a team-high 20 points. Her previous scoring high at the varsity level was 13 points.

“They pretty much have done that every game,” SHS head coach Alan Thorpe said of players stepping up since Morton was sidelined earlier this month. 

In the Great East Texas Shootout, a three-day tournament in Brownsboro that ended Saturday, Madison Gilder led the Honeybees in scoring in one of their three wins, while Alee McClendon, Bernays and Mikayla Diaz also contributed offensive firepower with Morton out of the lineup. The Honeybees took second place, losing to unbeaten Martin’s Mill (17-0) — the top-ranked Class 2A team in the state, and the defending state champion.

The non-district win moved coach Alan Thorpe’s Honeybees to 13-3 on the season. They are No. 6 in this week’s Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A state rankings.

“I keep telling the kids that doesn’t matter right now,” Thorpe said of the rankings. “When the last poll comes out, that’s when it matters.”

Against Venus, the Honeybees permitted only two points in the opening quarter, and led by nine. They held a 23-13 advantage at halftime.

The Lady Bulldogs trailed just 29-21 at the close of the third quarter before the Honeybees outscored them 14-8 in the final eight minutes. The Lady Bulldogs got no closer than five points back of SHS in the second half.

“They were running a zone and if you’re not hitting the 3 — and we weren’t — it makes it challenging,” Thorpe said. “They’ve got some big girls. We’ve been facing quite a bit of big girls. And we’ve had a chance to practice on zone defense quite a bit."

The Honeybees were scheduled to play Friday (Dec. 14) at Midlothian Heritage. Their next game will be Tuesday night at home against Abilene Wylie (varsity at 6). They will continue non-district play until their District 7-4A opener, Jan. 4 at home against Mineral Wells.