DIXON – Rivalries bring out the best in everyone, and when the Golden Warriors visit the Duchesses, it is no exception.
Sterling controlled the game through the first half and well into the third quarter on Tuesday. However, Dixon pulled it together in the fourth quarter to win 45-42 in comeback fashion.
The Duchesses (5-4, 2-0 NIB-12 West) trailed 37-34 with time winding down, as Dixon senior Brooke Bailey controlled the ball on the right side. Everyone in the gym expected the next shot to come from her hand. She fooled everyone.
Bailey found Maggie Provo wide open on the block and riffled a pass past Sterling defenders, where Provo did the rest of the work to cut the lead to one.
Then it was Bailey's turn to shoot, as she made consecutive shots to give the Duchesses their first lead since the first quarter at 40-37, with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left.
A timeout for Sterling (7-1, 1-1) changed the tide. Seniors Kiarra Harris and Kaitlyn Bauer responded to Bailey's baskets with baskets of their own to regain the lead 41-40 with 2:32 remaining.
Harris was then fouled with 1:01 on the clock and sent to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. She stepped up to the line and made the first to extend the lead. Her second free throw hit the right side of the rim and fell into the arms of Dixon's Carly Hartle.
On the ensuing Dixon possession, Bailey's hand remained hot, as she posted up and made a tough, left-handed layup despite heavy contact that resulted in a foul to tie the score at 42.
The Warriors iced Bailey by calling a timeout, but the tactic failed as she made it, giving the Duchesses the one-point lead.
After a Warrior turnover on their ensuing possession, it was Dixon junior Brittani Sohn's turn for heroics. With 15.8 seconds remaining, she stepped to the line for a one-and-one.
She calmly knocked down both in to extend the lead to 45-42.
"We have just been working all year on staying calm when situations get tough, and reacting positively to those difficult situations," Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. "All of our kids did that. Every single one that was on the court, ones that were on the bench. They were all there for each other, and we played like a team. I am really proud of them."
Sterling had an opportunity to tie the score, as junior Gabby Sandoval got an open look from the corner, but it rimmed out, and once again fell into the arms of Hartle.
"Brooke Bailey made a great pass," Sterling coach Julie Schroeder said, "because we weren't in the right place in the first place defensively for them to take the lead. At that point, we panicked a little bit, which is unfortunate because we have had some close games. I would have thought we would execute a little better in the end in that situation. But all the credit goes to Dixon, they beat us hands down."
In the first half, the Warriors held Bailey to four points, while Harris scored 10 of her 17 points in the first half.
Dixon's Hartle kept her team in it and shouldered the load before Bailey found her shot.
"I knew it was important for us to get points on the board," Hartle said, "or else they would just blow us out. So I figured if we were struggling, I would pull up and try to come through for us."
Hartle scored 12-points in the first half, and finished with 13. Her clean up duties down low resulted in 13 rebounds and turned missed shots into points for the Duchesses.
"Carly had my back on my shots," Bailey said. "She put up so many of my rebounds, and made our team look better. Great job to her."
"Carly has been working hard," Ravlin said. "She's just now figuring out how good at this she really can be. It's pretty exciting to see that because all of her hard work is paying off with the way she's playing in games. First and second half she played great, and I think that just goes to show when you put the work in, you get results"
Despite Hartle's stellar half, her team still trailed 27-20 going into the locker room.
Bailey's slump ended in the third quarter. She came out firing and hit a pair of jumpers from the free-throw line to jump start the offense. After an exchange of baskets, she hit a 3-pointer to cut the Sterling lead to 33-29 at the 4-minute mark of the third quarter.
"Well we just weren't getting any good shots up," said Bailey. "We weren't moving our offense as well as we should have been. But in the second half, we really pulled it together, and it ended in a good result. Beating Sterling is always a nice win for Dixon, with us being rivals."
Star of the Game: Carly Hartle, Dixon, 13 points, 13 rebounds.
Key Performers: Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 17 points, 6 rebounds; Brooke Bailey, Dixon, 18 points, 3 assists.