STERLING – Perhaps those most entertained at Musgrove Fieldhouse on Friday night were those who got free admission to the show.
Streator coach Rory Bedeker couldn't help but gush over the Golden Warriors' execution and athleticism in Sterling's 55-22 Northern Illinois Big 12 West victory.
"Their taller girls run the floor so well," Bedeker said. "They made some great spin moves and hook shots that we had no chance of stopping. Great moves.
"Our girls wondered how they got the ball up the floor with two passes to make layups. I told them that's what we're trying to do with some of our drills."
Kiarra Harris finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. She had four rebounds in the first 2 minutes, and Sterling (9-10, 4-0) built a 28-10 lead at the break, despite Streator (2-14, 0-4 NIB-12 West) scoring the last four points of the half. That followed a 17-0 Sterling surge.
"I just wanted to start off with a bang," Harris said. "We're always on a roller-coaster. I figured if we started off good, everything would keep falling into place."
In the second half, the coast-to-coast Harris show actually picked up speed. She snared a rebound and flew from end-to-end before spinning into the lane and finishing off the glass.
"Watching her is a blast," said Sterling senior Taylor Olsen, one of several reserves to log at least a quarter's worth of court time. "When she does her little spin move, it makes us all go crazy. I love it."
Kaitlyn Bauer led Sterling with 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. Five of those buckets were funded by Harris dimes. The 5-foot-11 junior forward hit Bauer in transition after a Stephanie Kester rebound for a runout that made it 36-12 with 5:52 left in the third. Then Harris came up with a steal and rifled it ahead to Bauer, right in stride, for another runout.
With 5:15 left to play, Harris took a Halie Robinson pass, turned down an open jumper and slipped a pass inside to Bauer for a bunny that made it 46-20.
Gabby Sandoval then stole the ball at midcourt and earned a three-point play to make it 49-20. On the next Bulldogs possession, Harris flashed her volleyball prowess with a monster block of Madison Hall at the elbow. Harris moved it to Priscilla Aponte, who dished to Ivy Peterson for a layup on a 2-on-1.
"I don't come off the bench very much," Peterson said. "Tonight was a really good opportunity to show them what I have and what I'm all about."
"It's nice to have a game like that coming off the schedule we had, where those kids didn't get to play a lot," Sterling coach Julie Schroeder said. "And I thought they played very well. It was nice to see."
The illness-addled Bulldogs were without leading scorer and rebounder Morgan Sharisky. Shawna Meiners led them with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field but was 0-for-4 at the line. Alexis Strong chipped in 10 points and six rebounds for Sterling, which enjoyed a 36-21 rebounding edge.
Star of the game: Kiarra Harris, 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks
Key performer: Kaitlyn Bauer, Sterling, 17 points, 8-for-12 FGs; Alexis Strong, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, assist
Up next: Sterling at LaSalle-Peru, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday