RUSH SPRINGS — After a heartbreaking semifinal loss to Rush Springs in the Black Diamond Tournament, Sterling’s Lady Tigers bounced back with a 56-47 win over Empire to claim third place last Saturday.
“We scored six points in the third quarter against Rush Springs, and we missed a lot of layups and that was the difference in the game,” Sterling head coach Jennifer Garner said.
Prior to that, Sterling and Rush Springs were tied at halftime 28-28. Rush Springs then outscored Sterling 15-6 in the third quarter, but the Lady Tigers attempted a fourth quarter rally by outscoring the hosts 14-9 but it wasn’t enough.
Emma Nunley led Sterling in scoring against Rush Springs with 24 points followed by Kinley Mansel with 11.
Sterling was forced to bounce back the following day to take on a rugged Empire team.
“It was a tough third place game to win. I was pleased,” Garner said. “Everyone was pretty bummed out about Friday and to turn around and play Empire, which is a physical team, we played pretty good.”
Sterling jumped out to a 29-22 lead at halftime, but Empire outscored the Lady Tigers 13-8 to cut the lead to 37-35 by the end of the third quarter. However, Sterling pushed the pace in the fourth quarter by outscoring Empire 19-12 to claim the nine-point victory.
Nunley finished the game with 25 points but scored eight in the decisive fourth quarter. Lady Tiger teammate added 12 points while Ava Alexander contributed seven.
Sterling defeated Gracemont handily 60-20 in the tourney’s first-round game.
The Lady Tigers will host Alex Jan. 13 and the compete in the Comanche County Tournament Jan. 16-21. Sterling will face the Elgin junior varsity 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16 in the Coliseum at the Comanche County Fairgrounds. If Sterling wins, the Lady Tigers would play the winner of the Chattanooga-Fletcher game at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.