Friday’s District 7-4A regular-season basketball finale for the state-ranked Stephenville High School girls may have been just what the Honeybees needed to prepare for the upcoming playoffs.

Coach Alan Thorpe’s Honeybees held on for a tough 28-26 victory over Brownwood in a defensive struggle at home in Gandy Gym on Senior Night for the SHS girls. The Lady Lions (fourth place, 3-4 in district) had been the only other team to defeat defending district champion and regional qualifier Glen Rose (second place, 4-3) this season, taking a 32-30 win at home over the Lady Tigers on Jan. 4.

The 23-7 Honeybees had already wrapped up the district title with a 7-1 mark, but they were coming off their only district loss, a 55-53 overtime setback, Jan. 29 at Godley.

The first-round playoff opponent for the SHS girls will be Krum, the fourth-place team out of District 8-4A. That bi-district contest will be played Monday, Feb. 11 at Weatherford High School, but the starting time had not been decided by press time. The Honeybees don't have any warm-up games scheduled before then, Thorpe said.

“I told the girls that the last two games were really good for us,” Thorpe said. “They were both tough, and different styles.

“This is a great way to go into the playoffs. We needed a tough game like that. This kind of game gets you ready. And our schedule was so tough in non-district that it helps you in those games.”

The Honeybees slipped from their No. 7 state ranking in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll to No. 11 this week. As of Monday, the Honeybees were still No. 7 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s state rankings.

SHS junior guard Jettie Funderburgh said, “I definitely think we needed a tough game. We needed a jump-start going into the postseason.”

Funderburgh said after the loss to Godley, the Honeybees were feeling a little down, so they talked and decided to each write one word on their wrist in order to inspire them for the next outing. The word Funderburgh wrote on her wrist was “positivity.”

The leading scorer in the Brownwood game was Alee McClendon, with 10 points. Next was Hannah Bernays, with six.

The Honeybees led 6-4 going into the second quarter, and 13-11 at halftime. Both teams managed to score eight points each in the third, and both had seven in the fourth quarter.

Brownwood hit a 3-point basket late in the game to pull within one point, at 27-26.

Stephenville’s Madison Gilder made a free throw with about 40 seconds left in the game, giving the Honeybees a 28-26 edge.

The Lady Lions had a chance to potentially tie it with 4.5 seconds remaining in the game when they had a one-and-one free throw opportunity. But the Brownwood player missed her first try and McClendon came up with the rebound to prevent any more scoring.