CLEBURNE — The Stephenville Honeybees created some separation between themselves and one of the teams packed with them near the top of District 8-4A, beating the Lady Jackets 53-43 on the road Tuesday.
The Honeybees moved to 4-2 district, taking the lead midway through the first quarter and carrying it all the way to the end.
Head coach Ron Berry said that following the win, the consensus among his players was that “we should be undefeated.” In each of their district losses — at Everman and at home Friday to Joshua on a buzzer-beating three-pointer — the Honeybees failed to play as well as they are capable.
But there was no hangover from the emotionally draining loss to the Lady Owls.
“If anything,” Berry said, “I think it motivated the kids to come out and play.”
“They just looked determined tonight.”
Holly Feist had a terrific game, scoring 21 points. She outscored the Lady Jackets all by herself in the third quarter, 9-6 — she was Stephenville’s lone scorer in the period.
Feist also had the Honeybees’ first six points in the fourth quarter, as they stretched their lead to 15, 45-30, with five minutes left in the game.
Cleburne was paced by sweet-shooting freshman guard Jacqueline Chandler, who single-handedly kept the Lady Jackets in the game in the first half. She had 19 of Cleburne’s 22 first half points.
She finished with 24, a career high, but was mostly shut down by Trisha Tuck, who face-guarded the freshman and kept her from getting more open looks.
Tuck was also clutch from the free throw line down the stretch, hitting four of four in the fourth on her way to nine points. She also had four assists.
Lindsay Bloemhof had eight points, and team highs in rebounds (6) and blocks (6).
The Honeybees shot well, hitting 19 of 20 free throws.
Berry said he did not use his bench as much as he often does as this was a game that “we had to put in the win column.”
Starters Kelsie Roberson and Stacy Slayden both played solid defense and did a good job of running the offense, Berry said.
The team’s upperclassmen know what it takes to win tight games on the road, he said. Plus, the Honeybees “always play well” when their backs are against the wall.
“They’ve never let me down on that,” Berry said.
The Honeybees rode a 6-0 run to a 10-4 lead early in the game, as Bloemhof scored inside, Roberson hit a pair of free throws and Kelsey Evans had a putback. The Lady Jackets came within two, but Evans ended the quarter with a steal and layup to make it 12-8.
Stephenville opened the second quarter with eight straight points, including a three-pointer from Slayden, to go up 21-8.
Chandler hit three straight three-pointers for Cleburne, finding seams in Stephenville’s zone defense. Tuck ended the half with a steal that she tossed ahead to Evans, who had another quarter-ending layup.
Scoring slowed down drastically following the 18-14 second, as Feist kept the Honeybees up. The rest of the team came through on defense to limit Cleburne to just six points.
Cleburne came within five points after Chandler completed a three-point play to make it 45-40 with 1:51 to go, but the Lady Jackets were forced to foul and the Honeybees made them pay. Tuck hit four of four, Slayden hit two of two and Roberson sealed the win with another pair of foul shots.
Berry said the win makes Friday’s home game versus Mineral Wells “real big.” He added that the Lady Rams would like nothing more than a chance to derail the Honeybees’ playoff plans.
“They’ll bring their ‘A’-game,” Berry said. “We’ve just got to make sure we bring ours.”
Tip off is at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Stephenville High School.