With senior guard Autumn Nichols providing 20 points with her outside shooting attack and the defense almost air tight, the state-ranked Stephenville Honeybees breezed to a 58-17 basketball victory over the Lady Rams last Friday.

The victory in Gandy Gym marked the District 7-4A opener for the girls as coach Alan Thorpe’s state-ranked Honeybees improved to 17-6 on the season.

Nichols came off the bench to bury six 3-point baskets, with three in the second quarter and three more in the third. The Honeybees already had the game well under control, taking a 17-2 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

The Honeybees are No. 4 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A state ranking, and No. 6 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll.

The team poured in a total of nine 3-pointers, while the Lady Rams (14-15 overall, 0-1 in district) managed just one. SHS owned a 28-8 lead by halftime, and outscored Mineral Wells 15-4 and 15-5 in the final two quarters.

In addition to Nichols’ breakout game — her career high — teammate Hannah Bernays scored eight points and Jettie Funderburgh added seven. Funderburgh’s total included two 3-pointers.

Nichols said she remembered scoring 16 points in a JV game as a sophomore, but never 20.

“It was the most threes I’ve had in a game, so I was really excited,” Nichols said, noting that teammates were encouraging her during the game. “They were just supportive off the bench. They know I am a shooter, and they have been wanting me to go off. It was very exciting.”

Thorpe said he was pleased that Nichols “caught fire” in the game, and said that the six 3-pointers had to be “close” to a school record on the girls side.

“She’s playing a lot better,” Thorpe said of Nichols. “She’s earning her playing time. I’m proud of her. She’s come a long way since the start of the (season).”

Only one Mineral Wells player managed to score a field goal in the first half, and only three Lady Rams scored overall.

“I think they had a tough night (shooting), but I”m hoping we had something to do with that,” Thorpe said. “We tried to pressure them pretty hard. I thought our pressure was good. I thought we did a great job on the offensive boards.”

Thorpe said the Honeybees collected 20 offensive rebounds in the game, noting that was “huge,” adding, “and I thought we shot the ball well.”

The Honeybees had lost three games in the always-tough Whataburger Basketball Tournament the previous weekend, but the setbacks came against two teams with No. 1 state rankings (Class 4A Levelland and Class A Nazareth) and one with a No. 2 ranking (Class A Dodd City).

The Honeybees were scheduled to continue district play on Tuesday at Glen Rose, with the varsity set for a 6 p.m. Their next game will be Friday at home against Godley (varsity at 6 p.m.). The Glen Rose girls suffered a 32-30 upset at the hands of Brownwood on Friday in their district opener, falling to 22-4 on the season.

Despite the fact that losing to such heavy duty competition didn’t cause the Honeybees to drop in the rankings, Thorpe thought it was important for the team to post a strong win in the district opener, setting up the showdown with state-ranked Glen Rose, the defending district champion.

“I wanted us to get back on track, and we did that in a big way,” Thorpe said. “I’ve seen (Glen Rose) play, and they’re really solid. It’ll be tough. It will be quite a game.”

The Honeybees’ difficult non-district schedule should have them ready for whatever lies ahead in district play and beyond.

“You gain confidence, and when you get in tough games, you’ve been there,” Thorpe said. “And our kids know they can play with the best teams out there.”

Stephenville also dominated the junior varsity girls game Friday, beating Mineral Wells 58-6.