STERLING – After all of the pomp and circumstance of Senior Night transitioned to game time, Sterling senior Emilie Powers had a bad feeling something wasn’t going too right while shooting during warmups.
“I didn’t hit many shots before the game,” Powers said. “It was real surprising, because I usually do.”
Facing the Rochelle Hubs in her final home game, Powers had a much better time hitting shots when it mattered. She hit 3-pointers in the second, third, and fourth quarters to provide enough pop to lead her team to a 61-38 win at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Powers’ first 3 came with 3:56 left in the second quarter. She caught a pass from Grace Gould just to the left of the top of the key and sank it to inch the Golden Warriors within one point of Rochelle’s lead (21-20).
“When we needed them, I got them,” Powers said. “With this being my last home game, I was pretty upset before the game. I just wanted to go out with a bang with my senior classmates.”
Gould followed that with an eventual go-ahead 3 from the left elbow for a 23-21 lead with 2:38 to play. Sterling (12-18) led 26-23 at halftime and didn’t trail again.
Sterling coach Taylor Jackson started all four of her seniors – Powers, Kailey Mitchell, Gabi Schilling and Akira Tanton – along with Josi Borum.
“It was super fun to have all four of them starting,” Borum said. “It’s something super special that we all do for the seniors.”
The Hubs pulled down six offensive rebounds while the usual reserves were on the court, and it was apparent from there that rebounding would be a huge point of emphasis.
“We knew [rebounding] was going to be the game-changer for us, if we could do that,” Jackson said. “I thought every one of our kids, when they stepped on the floor, stepped up defensively and really hit the boards hard.”
Josi and Brooklyn Borum pulled down plenty of rebounds on both ends of the court. Both finished with double-doubles: Brooklyn scored 15 points, pulled down 13 offensive boards, and finished with 20 total rebounds; Josi finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Sterling held Rochelle to 6-for-22 shooting in the second half, and the end result was a wider margin than a 58-57 win in Rochelle on Jan. 16.
“We had a lot more fire,” Josi Borum said, “and we wanted to win a lot more.”
After Rochelle’s Cesca Vardman hit a 3 to start the game, the Golden Warriors went on an 8-0 run behind a pair of jumpers from Schilling, and one each from Josi Borum and Grace Gould.
Both teams went on second-quarter runs after Sterling came out ahead 13-11 to end the first quarter. The Hubs went on a 10-0 run behind a pair of 3s from Abby Lundquist and a putback from Mya Latta, but they couldn’t put any other runs together.
Lundquist led the Hubs with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Powers led the Sterling seniors with nine points, and Schilling scored six of her eight points in the first quarter.
“To me, they’ve kind of been the heart of where [our season] is going,” Jackson said of her seniors. “It was nice for them to be able to go out like this on the court.”
Sterling 61, Rochelle 38
Star of the game: Brooklyn Borum, Sterling, 13 points, 20 rebounds (13 offensive), 3 steals
Key performers: Josi Borum, Sterling, 12 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists; Abby Lundquist, Rochelle, 19 points, 9 rebounds; Grace Gould, Sterling, 10 points
Up next: 3A Dixon Regional, Sterling vs. Freeport, 7 p.m. Monday