ALEDO — Points were hard to come by for ninth-ranked Stephenville Tuesday night in a 40-25 Class 4A regional quarterfinal girls basketball loss to fifth-ranked Argyle.
After scoring 73 points or more twice during the regular season and 69 in their previous playoff game just five days earlier, coach Alan Thorpe’s Honeybees experienced an uncharacteristically cold night shooting the ball as the District 7-4A champion Honeybees’ season ended at Aledo High School.
The Honeybees finished with a 25-8 record. District 8-4A champion Argyle (28-7) advanced to advance to the regional semifinal round against No. 1-ranked Canyon.
The Honeybees scored only two points in each of the first two quarters on the way to a 17-4 halftime deficit. Their shooting percentage picked up some after intermission but the Honeybees were unable to make up ground despite scoring 10 points in the third quarter and 11 in the fourth.
Jayci Morton led SHS in scoring, but was held to just 11 points. The next-leading scorer for SHS was Alee McClendon, with five. Three Honeybees — Hannah Bernays, Mikayla Diaz and Autumn Nichols — scored three points each to complete the scoring.
Rhyle McKinney, a 5-9 junior shooting guard who has been Argyle’s leading scorer, uncorked 30 points on the night including 15 in the fourth quarter.
A 7-2 run for Stephenville to close out the third quarter pulled the Honeybees within nine, at 23-14. But the Lady Eagles were able to maintain a safe lead, then put it away with a 6-0 spurt in the final 57 seconds of the game.
“Our shots weren’t falling,” Thorpe said. “We got the shots we wanted. We just didn’t finish them.”
Thorpe noted that the team missed two wide-open shots early in the game, which may have set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Missing two wide-open (3-pointers) … if we hit even one of those, it could have changed the whole complexion of the game,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe also noted that the Honeybees missed three of their first four free throws.
“I think it was just nerves. It was a big game,” he said. “We’ve been pretty good at the free throw line all year.”
The Honeybees made 9 of 16 free throws overall, while Argyle missed 10 of its 15.
Meanwhile, Stephenville played relatively well on defense, holding the Lady Eagles to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters.
“Our defense was really good,” Thorpe said. “If you hold Argyle to 40 points, you’ve got a chance of winning the game.
"They're a solid team. They don't have any weaknesses. They have a couple of outstanding players, with solid role players. It's been a great year for the kids. I hate to see it end, but the kids went out fighting.”
Another factor was how physical the contact was at times, which appeared to have a negative effect on Stephenville’s shooting as well as causing some shots to be altered.
“I thought they allowed it to be played very physical, which got to be very frustrating for our kids,” said Thorpe, who will lose six seniors to graduation.
Jayci Morton, a 5-10 senior forward who has signed to play for Tarleton State University, said she was proud of the way the team played.
“We were ready to go defensively,” Morton said. “We knew we were going to have to step up defensively. We couldn’t have played any better.
“They (the referees) allowed it to be a very physical game, so it was like a dog fight. We had to adjust our shots, just to get it up there.”
Morton recalled fond memories of her four-year career as a starter for the Honeybees and enjoying the bond she had with her teammates. She said the loss was emotional for the players, and felt like “the worst feeling, knowing it’s over.”
She added, “It flew by, but they’re some of the best memories I’m going to have. I’m so proud of every single one of them.”
Thorpe added, "The seniors did a great job. Their leadership was phenomenal this year. The team camaraderie was great, and that really stems from leadership. It's always a hard meeting at the end, especially with the seniors. This is a real special group, and I hate losing them."