STERLING — Sterling’s defense rose to the occasion last Friday when the Lady Tigers blocked 25 shots, including 20 by post player Kinley Mansel, as the host team shut down Rush Springs 46-29.
The win improved Sterling’s season record to 18-4 as the Lady Tigers enacted some revenge on Rush Springs, which won an earlier battle, 52-48.
“We played pretty good,” Sterling head coach Jennifer Garner said. “We shut ‘em down, and they couldn’t get anything inside. Offensively, we came out in the third quarter and lit it up.”
Still, Sterling led by only 10 at halftime, 26-16. However, the Lady Tigers were explosive in the third quarter, as they scored 18 points to push their lead to 42-26.
Rush Springs never recovered as Sterling won its seventh game in a row.
“I think we hit nine 3s for the game,” Garner said. “We were up by 20 in the fourth quarter and they started coming back, so we went into a stall game and took some time off the clock.”
Sterling senior Emma Nunley led all scorers with 13 points, followed by Ashlyn Clift with 10 and Morgan Curry with nine. Clift had the hot hand in the third quarter with eight points, including two three-point buckets. Nunley was perfect at the free-throw line, hitting all eight of her charity attempts.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s game against Big Pasture was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Sterling will play Cyril Feb. 3 and finish the regular season Feb. 7 at home against Binger-Oney.
Sterling was awarded a bye in the first round of the district tournament at Velma-Alma and will play the winner of the Fletcher-Velma Alma game Saturday, Feb. 11. Sterling defeated Fletcher 57-16 earlier in the season.
The Lady Tigers have not played Velma-Alma yet.
All the district tourney teams are unranked, although Sterling has the best record at 18-4, which is the reason for the first-round bye. Velma-Alma is 12-5, and Fletcher has a season mark of 5-11.
A district tourney win for Sterling would place the Lady Tigers in the regional tournament’s winner’s bracket. That game will be played at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Union City.