Jason Hodges, who graduated from Stephenville High School as a member of the Class of 1997, on Wednesday was named the lone finalist for the Honeybees varsity girls basketball head coaching position.

Hodges, who led the Midlothian Heritage varsity girls basketball team to the Class 4A playoffs in each of his four seasons there, replaces longtime SHS coach Alan Thorpe. Thorpe had coached the Honeybees for a total of 19 seasons over two different time stints, and has won more than 500 games in his career as a head coach.

“It’s a very humbling opportunity,” Hodges told the Empire-Tribune by phone Wednesday afternoon. “Coach Thorpe has done an amazing job (with the Honeybees). I’m very excited about the opportunity. I know how good the program is, and hopefully I can take them into the next level.”

Hodges said that earlier in his coaching career he didn’t really think about the possibility of returning to Stephenville as a coach, but he is obviously happy that it worked out, saying, “It’s awesome here.”

He and Thorpe first met when Hodges was a student at SHS, where he played basketball and golf. After Hodges joined the girls basketball coaching world — eventually coaching Heritage against the Honeybees when they were in the same district before UIL realignment sent them into different districts — he got to know Thorpe much better.

“When I got into the coaching ranks, we became friends,” Hodges said. “We played a lot of golf together. He’s a good man, and he’s going to do great things at Granbury. I hope I can fill his shoes.”

Hodges, 40, earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Tarleton State University. He will also be the head girls and boys golf coach for SHS.

Stephenville Athletic Director Jerod Womack said Hodges stood out among the five final candidates who were invited to come to the school for final interviews on Tuesday because of "the way he presented himself and his enthusiasm about being our basketball coach and his ability to lead young ladies into the playoffs. All of those things came together for him to be a great fit."

Hodges and his wife, Faye, have a son, Huntly, who will turn 5 in July, and a daughter named Hattie who will be 2 in August. Faye (Haggard) was also an SHS alumnus, and went on to graduate from Texas Tech.

Hodges led the Lady Jaguars to playoff berths in each of his four seasons at Heritage, starting from when that school opened.

Last season was Hodges’ best so far as a head coach, finishing the 2017-18 season with a 33-6 record. His Lady Jaguars reached the Region III-4A semifinals before being eliminated by eventual state finalist Hardin-Jefferson last February. Hardin-Jefferson lost to Argyle in the state title game.

After his stint from 2002-04 as student/graduate assistant for TSU’s men’s basketball team, Hodges was an assistant and junior varsity coach in various capacities at Royse City, Rio Vista and Coppell before taking the head coaching position at Heritage.

Hodges is the third SHS graduate chosen to fill head coaching vacancies in a little over a year, dating back to Shay (maiden name Gracy) Douglas being named to replace former longtime volleyball head coach Fran Metzger, who retired after the 2017-18 school year. Douglas was a junior all-state and academic all-state member of the 2003 SHS volleyball team that won a state championship under Metzger.

More recently, SHS graduate Sterling Doty was chosen as the successor to Greg Winder as the varsity head football coach of the Yellow Jackets. Doty was a 2001 SHS graduate who played football on the Jackets’ back-to-back state championship teams in 1998 and 1999 under former head coach Art Briles.

Hodges said he was born in College Station, but his family moved to Stephenville when he was only 2 years old.

His Lady Jaguars made the playoffs the first two seasons under Hodges, and they reached the area playoff round his third year there.

“These four years have been very successful for Heritage in all sports, and I think I can take some of that with me,” Hodges said.

He said his basketball coaching style will depend on the type of personnel on the team in any given season.

“That can change yearly,” he said.

Hodges will be in Stephenville to run the Honeybee basketball camp, which starts June 17.