DIXON – There were two twin towers of power at work Friday when Sterling took on Stillman Valley in a quarterfinal matchup at the Dixon Holiday Tournament.
That was mostly a wash, but the Golden Warriors used a superior team effort to post a 45-33 victory over the Cardinals.
Sterling received its usual strong contribution from the senior duo of Kaitlyn Bauer (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Kiarra Harris (10 rebounds, 9 points, 5 steals, 4 assists and 2 blocks), but they met their match in Stillman's Macy Weaver and Abby Timm.
Weaver, a 6-foot-3 freshman, was a force with 11 rebounds and 10 points, while Timm, a 6-foot junior, finished with 10 boards and four points. Each of the Cardinals also blocked four shots.
"It was fun, I'd say, guarding those tall girls," Bauer said. "But on the offensive end, it was kind of hard getting blocked."
Sterling (9-6) led by as many as 19 points (33-14) after a basket from Bauer early in the third quarter before Stillman Valley (4-6) came back to make things interesting. The Cardinals clawed their way to within nine points (42-33) after Haley Wenberg hit a baseline jumper with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Timm then stole the ball, but missed a breakaway layup. After another Stillman Valley steal, Timm missed another layup, and the Cardinals ended up going scoreless the final 5 minutes of the game.
Sterling hit 3 of 7 free-throw attempts the final 3:19 to salt the game away.
"They switched to man-to-man, and we struggled a little bit," Sterling coach Julie Schroeder said. "To be honest, we haven't played a man-to-man team in 3 weeks. We're a little rusty at that, and it showed, but we did enough to get it done, and that's what's important."
Gabby Sandoval finished with 10 points for the Golden Warriors, including a pair of early 3s to help her team get off to a fast start. Sterling also racked up 14 steals, with Harris (five) and Kaileen Terrock (four) leading the way.
Only two other Cardinals besides Weaver and Timm scored. They were Wenberg (10 points) and Sydney Shelburne (nine).
Stillman Valley lost to Sterling 49-20 in the season opener back on Nov. 18, so Cardinals head coach Heather Alderks was happy her club put up more of a fight.
"I'm pleased with the way we finished the game, but obviously not very pleased with the way we played the first half," Alderks said. "We played Sterling our first game this season, and I see some improvement."
In the semifinals, Sterling will take on Dunlap, a 57-48 winner against Oregon in its quarterfinal.
"We have to come out strong, because they have a lot of shooters," Bauer said. "We need to guard the ball, and have fun. We need to do a lot of good things, because they're a good team."
Star of the game: Kaitlyn Bauer, Sterling, 16 points, 8 rebounds
Key performers: Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 10 rebounds, 9 points, 5 steals; Macy Weaver, Stillman Valley, 11 rebounds, 10 points
Up next: Sterling vs. Dunlap, 3 p.m. Saturday