Jackets close district play, wait for playoff pairing

Mark Wilson mwilson@empiretribune.com
Braden Hayes (1) and Blake Aragon (2) of Stephenville fight for a rebound during Friday night's District 8-4A boys basketball contest versus Waxahachie Life School in Gandy Gym.

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets had already had a playoff spot wrapped up going into Friday’s District 8-4A boys basketball contest with Waxahachie Life, so their 68-40 loss to the 13th-ranked team in the state did nothing to hurt their seeding going into the state playoff bracket.

It was the final game of the regular season for the Jackets, who were still having to wait to find out their opponent for the bi-district playoff round.

If Kennedale, the first-place team in District 8-4A, hangs on to win it outright, then the Jackets would be paired against Fort Worth Castleberry, which was second in that district going into Tuesday’s games.

But if Kennedale lost Tuesday to fall into a tie with Castleberry for first, those two teams would play this Friday in a one-game district playoff — which could result in SHS being paired against Kennedale in the opening round, if Castleberry wins the district title.

The Jackets, 13-14 overall, closed out their district schedule at 8-4.

Stephenville head boys coach Bill Brooks had to miss Friday’s game against Life because of an illness, and let assistant coach Casey Hamilton lead the team, but he knows his players are ready for the playoff fun to start.

“This is always a fun time of year,” Brooks said. “It’s a fun atmosphere. The kids are ready to work hard, and we’re looking forward to seeing which team we’re going to play. We’ve been playing well, doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Against the Mustangs Friday, Skylar Stilwell was the top scorer for the Jackets, with 12 points. Teammate Blake Aragon added eight points and Quade Griffin scored seven.

The Mustangs shot 45 percent from the field overall, compared to 34 percent for the Jackets.

When the Jackets faced Life School in their first district meeting Jan. 16 in Waxahachie the Mustangs managed a 35-point victory, 71-36.

“We played them a little tougher,” Hamilton said of Friday’s matchup against the Mustangs. “We handled their pressure a lot better, but we didn’t rebound well. In the second half, we played hard. I’m very proud of our kids’ effort.”

The Mustangs scored 20 points in each of the first two quarters Friday, and led 40-20 at halftime.

Life owned a 54-28 edge going into the fourth quarter, and the Jackets were outscored by only a 14-12 margin in the fourth quarter.

The Mustangs were credited with 13 steals, compared with five for SHS, and enjoyed a 35-17 advantage in rebounding.

Life School (9-2, 29-7) will play Benbrook, the No. 3 team in District 8, in bi-district.