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Sterling can’t hang onto big early lead

Friars catch fire

Sterling's Gabby Sandoval takes a shot in the lane Friday night against Fenwick during the Sterling Shootout at Musgrove Fieldhouse. Sterling lost 67-63 in overtime.
Sterling's Gabby Sandoval takes a shot in the lane Friday night against Fenwick during the Sterling Shootout at Musgrove Fieldhouse. Sterling lost 67-63 in overtime.

STERLING – Once the Friars caught fire, they were just a little too much for the Golden Warriors to handle.

Sterling built up a big lead, lost it in a heartbeat, then hung on to force overtime before dropping a 67-63 decision to Fenwick on Friday night in a Sterling Shootout contest at Musgrove Fieldhouse.

Fenwick (5-6) scored the only points of the overtime session. Reserve guard Jessica Mackowiak hit a 10-foot jumper with 35 seconds remaining to put her team ahead 65-63.

Nine seconds later, the Warriors turned the ball over on an inbounds play, resulting in a fast-break layup by Fenwick’s Jenny Mackowiak to up the margin to 67-63 with 22 seconds left.

Kaitlyn Bauer and Carolynn Hammelman missed shots in the final 10 seconds for Sterling, sealing the Fenwick win.

The Friars (5-6) trailed by as many as 21 points (39-18) with 1:30 remaining in the second quarter, and were still down by 17 (41-24) at halftime.

The third quarter was a different story. Fenwick went on a 32-8 run, with some suffocating defense leading to numerous fast-break baskets. The Friars also hit 5 of 10 3-pointers in the quarter.

“I told them they had to bring more energy,” Fenwick coach Dave Power said, “and if you really crank that energy up, you might see them get a little tired. Sure enough, I think that’s what happened during that run.”

Ahead 60-52 with 5 minutes left, Fenwick had a chance to put the game away, but slowed the game down considerably and missed the front end of three 1-and-1 free throw opportunities to give Sterling some life.

Back-to-back baskets from Bauer made it 60-56 with 2 minutes to go, then Kiarra Harris took over. The senior forward hit two free throws with 1:06 to play to make it 62-58, then converted a 3-point play to draw Sterling within 63-61 with 36.5 seconds remaining.

A steal and layup by Harris with 17 seconds to go drew Sterling even at 63.

Sterling finished with 35 turnovers against a Fenwick defense that employed wave after wave of defenders the whole game.

“We stopped doing what we did in the first half,” Sterling coach Julie Schroeder said. “I don’t know that Fenwick changed anything. We talked about how they would come out with more energy than they had to start the game, and we talked about how we didn’t want to have empty possessions.

“We had like 13 in a row to start the third quarter. We just have to find a way to play smarter, not harder, and take care of the basketball.”

Bauer led Sterling with 20 points, while Harris finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Gabby Sandoval added 12 points.

Maya Garland led Fenwick with 18 points.

Fenwick 67, Sterling 63, OT

Star of the game: Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 19 points, 14 rebounds

Key performers: Kaitlyn Bauer, Sterling, 20 points; Maya Garland, Fenwick 18 points

Up next: Sterling vs. Moline, 10 a.m.; Sterling vs. Montini, 6 p.m. (both Saturday at SVCC)

Fenwick had the last opportunity, but Jenny Mackowiak was called for traveling with 0.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime.

Each team had two turnovers, and Sterling’s Halie Robinson missed a pair of free throws in OT before Fenwick was able to finally to seize control.

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