For the second game in a row, the Stephenville Yellow Jackets were forced into a poor shooting night by a more physical team.
The Yellow Jackets managed just 12 points in the second half on the way to a frustrating 51-38 loss to the Mineral Wells Rams Friday. Stephenville had scored at least that much in both of the first two quarters.
“We just didn’t shoot very well,” head coach Mike Dacus said.
“They were physical with us and jamming us, and we couldn’t run our offense.”
Trey Taylor had a team-high 15 points, including three three-pointers. Jared Mills had 11, but only three other Yellow Jackets scored: Jace Mills, Josh Millet and Cody Davis.
And though Stephenville kept Rams star Kevin Harvey under wraps, limiting him to just five points, Dacus said “both (their) big kids hurt us,” referring to Mark Jones and Noel Duesterheft.
The duo combined for 31 points, coming mainly on putbacks and easy layups inside.
Foul trouble made it even more difficult for the Yellow Jackets to contain the Rams’ posts, as Davis picked up his third foul early in the second quarter. He had to sit out the entire third quarter, but returned in the fourth quarter.
Three other Yellow Jackets fouled out: Kolten Parker, Jace Mills and Tom Ed Ramsay. They sorely missed post Colby Rives, who had to undergo an emergency appendectomy early Friday.
Rives had been averaging 10 rebounds per game, and has provided solid defense down low. In his place, Jared Mills and Ramsay each had eight rebounds, and Jace Mills had seven. Still, the Rams retained control of the glass for much of the game.
Stephenville came on strong, going up 8-0 after the game’s first three minutes. Mineral Wells evened the score over the next two minutes, and Jared Mills made two free throws with two minutes to go in the period to give Stephenville a 10-8 edge.
The Rams hit a three-pointer and a layup, but Millet banked in a turnaround three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Yellow Jackets a 14-13 lead going into the second quarter.
Davis made one of two free throws, and Taylor hit a three-pointer to make it 18-13. On the other end, Davis picked up his third foul, and the Rams hit five straight free throws to tie the game.
Jared Mills hit two of three from the free throw line, but the Rams made a layup and a pair of foul shots to take a 22-20 lead. They led by as many as six after Jones hit a three-pointer, but Taylor answered with a three of his own.
Jace Mills had a layup before the break, and the Yellow Jackets were down two at the half, 28-26.
Taylor hit his final three-pointer three minutes into the third quarter, giving Stephenville a 32-31 lead. He added a free throw two minutes later, but Jones hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 33 with 1:30 left in the third.
The Rams scored three unanswered points before the period’s end, taking a lead they never gave up.
Mineral Wells switched to a spread offense at the start of the fourth, positioning guards on either sideline just past midcourt. They burned valuable time off the clock, and stretched the Stephenville defense, opening up easy looks inside.
With 1:25 left, Harvey hit a pair of free throws to give the Rams a 10-point edge, 46-36, and Davis scored a layup on the other end. That was all the offense the Yellow Jackets could manage, and the Rams hit five of six free throws to close out the game.
The junior varsity beat Mineral Wells 55-41. Garrett Autry had a team-high 17 points.
Stephenville heads to Crowley Tuesday to take on the Eagles, who are undefeated in district after beating Everman, 57-45, Friday. Tip off is at 8 p.m.