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Kester shoots out of slump to lead Warriors

Shooter’s mantra

Newman's Kayci Howell fouls Sterling's Kiarra Harris during Friday's Sauk Valley Shootout game at Tabor Gym. Sterling won 47-30.
Newman's Kayci Howell fouls Sterling's Kiarra Harris during Friday's Sauk Valley Shootout game at Tabor Gym. Sterling won 47-30.

ROCK FALLS – Sterling's Stephanie Kester missed her first five shots, all of them 3-pointers. What did she do? Like any good shooter, she kept shooting.

Kester went 5-for-9 in the second half and hit four 3-pointers as the Golden Warriors pulled away late for a 47-30 win over Newman in the Sauk Valley Shootout on Friday night at Tabor Gym.

"My shot felt off early, but I knew I had to keep shooting," said Kester, who scored all 14 of her points in the second half. "[Coach Julie Schroeder] has told me the last couple years to keep shooting."

"The only way we were going to beat their zone was if we made some shots," Schroeder said. "The only way to get out of a slump is to keep shooting. We've had six or seven [3-pointers] in every game. That's a big key for us."

Sterling (3-1) also got 14 points from Kiarra Harris, who pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Newman's Rachel Hageman scored a game-high 21 points, 15 coming in the first half. She had 10 in the first quarter alone.

"I came out to play tonight, and my teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me," Hageman said.

After Hageman went to the bench with her third foul, the Warriors used an 10-0 run to build a 33-18 lead with 3:06 left in the third quarter. Harris had a three-point play, Kester a 3-pointer and Raquel Romano a 3-pointer in the spree.

When Hageman returned, so did the Comets' momentum. Newman (2-2) had a 10-0 burst of its own to make it a five-point game, 33-28, with 4:55 to play.

Hageman had a third-quarter bucket to start the tear. In the fourth quarter, Mary Alice Oswalt (5 rebounds, 3 points) drove for a hoop, then Kayci Howell and Hageman hit back-to-back 3s.

Schroeder called time out, and her team responded, answering with a decisive 11-0 blitz over the next minute and 36 seconds to put the game away.

Harris made a nice move underneath for a hoop to start the frenzy. McKenna Pearson added a fast-break bucket, Kester a field goal and Harris a fast-break basket before Kester drained a three to make it 44-28 with 2:19 remaining.

Kester tacked on the last of her four 3s for the game's final points.

"We played a little tentative. You can't play tentative against Sterling," Comets coach Jay Howell said. "You've got to play well against them, and we didn't."

Sterling's starting sophomore point guard Gabby Sandoval scored seven points, all in the first half.

Star of the game: Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 14 points, 11 rebounds

Key performers: Rachel Hageman, Newman, 21 points, 15 in first half; Stephanie Kester, Sterling, 14 points, all in second half

Up next: Sauk Valley Shootout (at Rock Falls, Saturday) – Newman vs. Stillman Valley, 6:30 p.m.; Sterling vs. Rock Falls, 8 p.m.

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