STERLING – Zach Rehmert mentioned jitters on Monday night after leading the Sterling Golden Warriors to a 54-47 win over Newman in the opening game of the Sauk Valley Shootout at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Most players would take Rehmert's jitters. The 6-foot, 2-inch junior hit two 3-pointers and scored the first eight points for the Warriors (1-0).
"There were a lot of first-game jitters being a junior starting on varsity," Rehmert said. "It wasn't pretty at times, but the team played hard and made big plays when we needed them."
Rehmert finished with 22 points, including a layup with 1 minute, 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter that extended Sterling's lead to 52-45.
"We know that Zach can do that," Sterling coach Jim Preston said. "The thing about the early 3s was that I think we sort of fell in love with the outside shot and then they stopped falling. I have to do a better job of getting them to pass the ball around and work the ball inside more."
Newman (0-1) was playing with a roster filled with players coming off of Saturday's 41-7 loss to Aurora Christian in the Class 3A football semifinals.
The Comets kept fighting, rallying back from five- and six-point deficits throughout the game.
"Every time we'd get close, Sterling did a nice job of pulling it back out by five or so," Newman coach Ray Sharp said. "I couldn't have asked for more effort. We just haven't had the practices to execute the offense. Most of it was muscle memory from last year and running our basic sets."
Newman grabbed one-point leads on three occasions in third quarter, the last at 35-34 with 1:30 left. Sterling closed the quarter on a 6-0 run, with four points coming from Rehmert.
In the fourth quarter, Newman closed within four points at 46-42 with 3:15 left, but was unable to convert on a couple opportunities that could have made it a one-possession game.
Zack Everett then made two free throws for the Warriors to put them up 48-42. After Newman's A.J. Sharp made one of two from the line, Micah Miller converted on the other end to put Sterling up 50-43.
After a pair of free throws from Sharp, Rehmert gave Sterling a seven-point cushion with a layup.
"They were able to substitute a lot of players onto the floor all game," A.J. Sharp said. "Where that got to us was on offense because they were able to maintain pressure at the end of the game."
Sharp was the quarterback for the Comets' run to the semifinals.
"It was tough at first, but we went to Luke LeMay's house on Saturday and that helped," Sharp said. "When we got here today, we were determined to try and do the same good things in basketball that we did in football."
Sharp finished with 14 points and two assists. Micah Trancoso and John Payan each had eight points.
Everett added eight points, seven rebounds and two assists for Sterling. Miller had 10 points.
Star of the game: Zach Rehmert, Sterling, 22 points, 3 rebounds
Key performers: A.J. Sharp, Sterling, 14 points, 2 assists; John Payan, Newman, 8 points, 4 rebounds; Zack Everett, Sterling, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Up next: Newman at Dixon, 7:30 p.m. today; Sterling at Morrison, 7:30 p.m. today