BROCK (TheFlashToday) — Bayleigh Chaviers was the first to admit it was not one of her better nights from the free throw line.
Ditto for the rest of the Honeybees, who were only 6-15 from the stripe before Chaviers was fouled with seven seconds remaining and Stephenville clinging to a one-point lead. The junior guard herself was 0-4 in her previous trips to the stripe.
But these weren’t just ordinary free throws, these were clutch shots with the game on the line. And Chaviers delivered, giving the Honeybees the final margin needed to claim their sixth consecutive area-round playoff victory.
“When I stepped up there I was really nervous,” said Chaviers, who got even more nervous after releasing the free throws. “I didn’t think they were going in, I thought I was going to miss.”
Except she didn’t. Both shots rattled around the rim and ultimately fell through the net, leaving Decatur in need of a desperation 3-pointer at the other end.
Makayla Mayfield’s shot from deep in the right wing wasn’t close, and the Honeybees celebrated victory after a second straight nail biter in the playoffs.
“I’m really excited and I believe in my team,” said Chaviers just moments following the conclusion of the thriller. “I think we can keep winning and go far.”
Stephenville, which entered the playoffs as the District 6-4A runner-up, plays Godley or Iowa Park (they play in Graham at 7:30 p.m. Friday) in the 4A Region I quarterfinals. If it’s Godley – as favored – the game will be at Aledo High School Tuesday with tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m.
Stephenville scored five of the first seven points in the fourth quarter, pushing its advantage to 39-32 – the largest lead held by either team – on a Lyndi Graham tear drop form the left baseline with 6:06 remaining.
Decatur, the District 8-4A champ, responded with baskets in the paint by Hannah Dunning and Macen Stripling, quickly trimming its deficit to three before Breanna Wooley hit a Stephenville 3-pointer to make it 42-36 with 4:40 left.
Wooley knocked down four triples and Stephenville had seven as a team. The senior guard scored 13 to lead the Honeybees, while Chaviers netted nine and four players – Cassidy Cline, Mikayla Hobbs, Ali Thorpe and Graham – each added five. Bethanie Bouchey contributed three points, Skylar Chipman one and Kali Smith one..
Decatur didn’t hit a single shot from outside the arc, but the Lady Eagles still managed to hang tough until the end.
Consecutive buckets inside by Dunning and Jasmyne Tate made it a two-point margin before a free throw by Stephenville’s Smith gave the Bees a 43-40 edge with 52 seconds on the clock.
Mayfield scored for Decatur, then the teams traded trips to the line with each hitting 1-2, leaving Stephenville on top 45-43. Mayfield hit another Decatur free throw with 10.69 seconds left before missing the second and Chaviers being sent to the line for the Bees.
Stephenville led by a slim margin most of the way, but the tension grew when Decatur scored the final six points of the first half to cut its deficit to 24-22 at intermission.
Stephenville didn’t score over the first four minutes and change of the third, as Decatur added another six points to what became a 12-0 run for a 28-24 lead.
But Chaviers made it rain from outside the arc, then Thorpe did the same to put the Bees back on top 30-28. The third quarter ended with Hobbs converting an old-fashion 3-point play for a 34-30 lead.