STERLING – If the Sterling Golden Warriors needed a night to gain confidence, Friday was the night to do it in their home game against Northern Illinois Big-12 West foe Streator.
The Warriors held the Bulldogs scoreless in the first and third quarters, as they cruised to a 68-21 victory.
Emotion was in the air at the tip, as Sterling (11-8, 2-1 NIB-12 West) honored those touched by cancer in their annual “Crazy for the Cure” game. Players wore tie-dyed warm-ups, and many also wore pink equipment.
An 18-0 run to start the game was enough for the Warriors. A big key to the run was junior Carolynn Hammelman, who notched a pair of steals and assists in that run.
Hammelman’s mother died of cancer in January of 2011.
“‘Crazy for the Cure’ was pretty emotional with my mom,” Hammelman said. “I had to calm myself down a lot, especially knowing that I had family up there watching me. It was pretty hard, but I got to wear these cool pink shoes, and that helped me keep my mind off of that. I knew whatever I did out there, my mom was watching. I had to make her proud.”
A basket by Streator freshman Kaylynne Terry with 7 minutes left in the second quarter ended the Bulldogs’ offensive drought. This sparked three more baskets for Streator (0-13, 0-3) in the quarter.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a balanced attack by the Warriors more than matched their scoring bonanza, and Sterling held a 31-8 lead heading into the locker room.
“I think our transition game was good tonight,” coach Julie Schroeder said. “We really fed off of that tonight, and did an even better job finishing. I really felt like we did a really good job defending, obviously holding them to that many points.”
Stellar defense was the story for the Warriors in the third quarter, and senior Kiarra Harris lifted Sterling offensively. She scored six of her game-high 20 points in a 2-minute span to start the half.
Not to be outdone, freshman Mya Pearson came off the bench for the Warriors to make a huge impact, scoring eight of her 10 points in the quarter.
The Bulldogs seized on their second-chance opportunities in the final stanza, scoring 10 of 13 their points off offensive rebounds.
Turnovers have been the Warriors’ Achilles heel this year. Schroeder was pleased with how much better her team handled the ball in the second half.
“Our number one thing was turnovers, and we had 11 in the first half,” Schroeder said. “That’s absolutely where we didn’t want to be, but we’re starting to get better at those and get an understanding of them. We feel like if we can take care of the ball, we’re going to score a lot of points.”
“Less turnovers is always my biggest goal every game,” Hammelman said. “Trying to keep my head in it and not turn the ball over as much.”
Star of the Game: Kiarra Harris, Sterling, 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists.
Key performers: Kayleen Terrock, Sterling, 10 poins, 6 rebounds, 6 steals, 5 assists. Carolynn Hammelman, Sterling, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 assists
Up next: Rochelle at Sterling, 7 p.m. Tuesday