DIXON – Katie Krogman provided a sense for the dramatic, Lydia Coatney did a little bit of everything, and Eastland survived a late comeback by Sterling to a win a first-round game Wednesday morning at the Dixon Holiday Tournament.
Krogman hit a free throw with 1 second remaining as the Cougars gained a 50-49 victory against the Golden Warriors in Lancaster Gym.
Eastland (14-1) was in control most of the way, and led by as many as 12 points (33-21) after Jordan Miller hit a pair of free throws with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
Sterling (4-14), however, crept to within seven points (39-32) by the end of the third period, and took its first lead at 40-39 on a layup from Grace Gould with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter.
The squads then alternated one-point leads until Sterling’s Josi Borum hit the second of two free throws with 7.8 seconds to play to tie it up at 49-49.
On its final possession, Eastland worked the ball down low to Krogman, who was fouled on a short baseline jumper by the Golden Warriors’ Katelyn Grell.
Sterling called a timeout to ice Krogman, and it worked, as she hit the back iron on her first attempt. After another Warrior timeout, Krogman’s next attempt bounced a few times on the rim before finally dropping in.
“Really there was no pressure, because we could win it in overtime anyway,” Krogman said. “I just wanted to win it there. [Coatney] looked at me and she goes, ‘I don’t want to go to overtime, so just make it.’ I just relaxed, made sure I followed through on my shot, and it rolled in.”
After another timeout, Sterling had one last gasp. Gretchen Gould inbounded the ball to Borum, who turned and fired near midcourt. The attempt was short and right, and the Cougars held on for the win.
Coatney hit 12 of 16 shots from the field for 25 points, and added five rebounds, four steals, three blocked shots and two assists to pace Eastland.
“We just have to keep our composure and keep those leads,” Coatney said. “But when it does come down to the nitty gritty like that, we have to keep playing like we have been, put up more points, and stay ahead of the other team.”
Erin Henze finished with 13 points and six assists for the Cougars, Krogman had eight points and five rebounds, and Gabby Snyder dished five assists.
Borum was a beast for Sterling with 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting, and she added six rebounds and two steals. She scored seven of her team’s final nine points in the last 3:17.
“We were trying really hard to get that comeback, but we started off bad in the first half,” Borum said. “If we hadn’t had that, we wouldn’t have had to work so hard to come back.”
Eastland gave itself a working margin by hitting 8 of 14 shots in the second quarter, including 3 of 8 from 3-point range, to take a 29-21 halftime lead.
“We tend to have a quarter or more where we just don’t have it,” Sterling coach Taylor Jackson said. “We gave up 20 points in the second quarter to a good-shooting Eastland team, and we need to not have that happen. That really was the deciding factor. When we’ve got it, our defense is translating into offensive opportunities for us, but we need to not have so many lapses.”
Gretchen Gould finished with 10 points and five rebounds for Sterling, and Grace Gould added seven points, three steals and three rebounds. Genea Garza tracked down a team-high eight rebounds.
Eastland 50, Sterling 49
Star of the game: Lydia Coatney, Eastland, 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks
Key performers: Josi Borum, Sterling, 24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals; Gretchen Gould, Sterling, 10 points, 5 rebounds; Erin Henze, Eastland, 13 points, 6 assists
Up next: Sterling vs. Newman, noon today (Reagan M.S.); Eastland vs. Rockford East, noon today (Dixon H.S.)