Last year, it took eight district games for Cleburne to find the winning side of the scoreboard.

Not this year.

Senior Jacob Kelsey scored seven points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 11.4 seconds to go, lifting the Cleburne Yellow Jackets to a 39-36 win over Stephenville in the District 6-4A opener for both teams on Friday.

“We needed to win and this is a big victory,” Cleburne head coach Jeff Cody said. “We battled and did what was necessary for us to win. We really gave a great effort.”

Cleburne improved to 12-11 overall, 1-0 in district, while Stephenville dropped to 6-14 on the season, 0-1 in the league.

But for most of the game, it was the inexperienced Yellowjackets from Stephenville in control.

Behind the scoring of Jacob Harwell and Ryan Black, Stephenville opened up a four-point lead during the first period, eventually taking a 10-8 lead into the second quarter.

Stephenville’s lead grew to six early in the second frame as Whitt Levisay knocked down a three-pointer, while Jared Mills drained a pair of free throws for a 16-10 Yellowjacket advantage.

However, Cleburne responded with seven points from Kelsey, along with points from Chance Rosser, Cameron Lehrmann, Brent Kiel and Shea McLean as the Jackets trailed by just one point at the intermission, 22-21.

The lead changed hands five times during the third quarter as each time Stephenville scored, Cleburne seemed to have a response. By the end of the frame, the score was knotted at 32-32.

The two teams buckled down on defense during the first three and a half minutes of the final frame, but Stephenville got back-to-back buckets from Colby Reeves for a 36-32 advantage.

But with 2:42 to go, Kelsey knocked down a three-pointer to trim the deficit to one, 36-35.

After a couple of minutes of defensive stops, Kelsey found himself on the foul line in a one-and-one situation. He drained both ends of the bonus, giving Cleburne a 37-36 advantage.

The Jackets got another defensive stop and Kelsey again was fouled, this time with 11.4 seconds to go.

Again, Kelsey calmly sank the two free throws for a 39-36 lead.

Stephenville had one last opportunity, but a three-pointer at the buzzer didn’t draw any iron as Cleburne took the victory.

“We made the stops on defense and then hit the free throws in the end,” Cody said. “Stephenville made some shots from three tonight and they are a very sound team that will win some games. But to come away with a win is big.”

Kelsey led Cleburne with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Field Reagan and McLean each had six points.

Black paced Stephenville with nine points and seven rebounds.

Stephenville is at home on Tuesday against Joshua, while Cleburne is hosting Aledo.

———

Cleburne 39, Stephenville 36

STEPHENVILLE (6-14, 0-1): Ryan Black 9, Jacob Harwell 6, Cody Davis 6, Colby Reeves 6, Jared Mills 5, Whitt Levisay 3, Josh Millet 1.

CLEBURNE (12-11, 1-0): Jacob Kelsey 17, Field Reagan 6, Shea McLean 6, Brent Kiel 5, Cameron Lehrmann 3, Chance Rosser 2.



Stephenville...10 12 10 4—36

Cleburne....8 13 11 7—39



Halftime score: Stephenville 22, Cleburne 21. Total fouls: Stephenville 20, Cleburne 15. Fouled out: Reagan. Three-point goals: Stephenville 4 (Davis 2, Levisay 1, Black 1), Cleburne 2 (Kelsey 2). Rebounds: Stephenville 20 (Black 7), Cleburne 25 (Lehrmann 5). Assists: Stephenville 8 (Mills, Trey Taylor 3), Cleburne 7 (McLean, Kelsey 3). Steals: Stephenville 8 (Black 3), Cleburne 9 (Rosser 4). Blocked shots: Stephenville 0, Cleburne 1 (McLean 1). Technical fouls: None. Turnovers: Stephenville 19, Cleburne 19.



Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or sports@trcle.com

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