STERLING – Pretzels were on the Golden Warriors' menu on Tuesday night, but the meal proved to be anything but filling.
Sterling was in good position through three quarters of Tuesday's nonconference game at Musgrove Fieldhouse before Freeport seized control and rolled to a 55-45 victory.
The Pretzels closed the game with a 20-5 run the last 9 minutes of the game, during which time the Golden Warriors went scoreless from the field. The difference was on the defensive end, where Freeport guards Demetri Offard and Quaveon Meeks (four steals apiece) wreaked havoc.
"I give credit to Freeport," Sterling coach Jim Preston said. "They did a good job with their 1-3-1, were able to get some steals in the fourth quarter, and get a couple of easy buckets. That puts the pressure on us."
Sterling (2-3) shredded the Freeport defense early on, building a 19-9 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Golden Warriors were still up six (41-35) after a basket by Joe Brouilette with a minute to go in the third quarter, but then missed their final seven field goal attempts.
"Sterling was able to move the ball around because we were playing zone with our hands down," Freeport coach Danny Turner said. "Once the kids bought into, 'Hey we've got to keep our hands up to take advantage of our size and our length,' we were able to cut down the passing lanes. That was a huge difference."
Freeport (4-5) scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to go up 45-41 before Sterling's Zach Rehmert dropped in a pair of free throws to narrow the gap to 45-43.
The Pretzels struck back with a free throw by Giovanni Offard and a 3-pointer by Devonair McClain to go up 49-43 with just under 3 minutes to play.
Rehmert appeared to give the Warriors some life with a move in the paint for a possible and-one opportunity, but was whistled for traveling on the play. Sterling didn't get closer than six points the rest of the way.
There was a huge disparity at the free-throw line. While Sterling was just 5-for-10, Freeport cashed in on 17 of 21 at the stripe.
"We tell our kids we want to make more than the opposition attempts at the foul line," Turner said. "We did that tonight."
Giovanni Offard had 19 points and six rebounds to lead Freeport. Meeks and McClain each had 11 points, while Demetri Offard added 10 points.
Rehmert led Sterling with 15 points and six rebounds. Sterling Thornton had 14 points and five boards, while Brouilette added 12 points.
Star of the game: Giovanni Offard, Freeport, 19 points, 6 rebounds
Key performers: Zach Rehmert, Sterling, 15 points, 6 rebounds; Quaveon Meeks, Freeport, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals
Up next: Sterling vs. Thornridge, 10:30 a.m. Saturday at DeKalb Tourney