LAWTON — Sterling used a late scoring spurt to defeat Big Pasture 42-41 last Saturday and win the Comanche County Tournament for the first time in six years.
The Tigers have won the Comanche County tourney two other times in 2017 and 1976. Sterling is now 14-7 with the three tournament wins.
“This has been a good time to start playing better basketball,” Sterling head coach Trent Parrish said. “We are 8-1 since the Christmas break, and we had a good game against Big Pasture. The kids played really well. This (winning the tournament) isn’t something that happens super often.”
Trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter, Sterling tallied eight consecutive points, with senior Hayden Taliaferro hitting a jumper with 16 seconds remaining to account for the winning basket. Sterling’s Tate Hughes connected on a jumper to bring the Tigers within five points and then Taliaferro, who had just returned to the game, scored six straight points to win the game and tournament.
Big Pasture is ranked No. 14 in Class B with a 17-3 record.
“They’re a really good team. They had played some good teams entering the tournament,” Parrish said. “We were lucky to come out with a win.”
Taliaferro led Sterling in scoring with 17 points, followed by Max Puccio with 10.
The Tigers held a slim 25-23 lead at halftime, but Big Pasture outscored Sterling 12-6 in the third quarter to lead 35-31 entering the final eight minutes. However, Sterling outplayed Big Pasture down the stretch while holding them to six points in the fourth quarter.
Sterling 60, Walters 46
The Tigers advanced to the championship game with its semifinal win over Walters that involved a season-high 34 points by Taliferro. The senior forward started with 14 points in the first half followed by 20 in the second half, including a game-high five three-point baskets.
The game was tight at halftime, with the score deadlocked at 28-28. However, Sterling came out on fire in the third quarter, scoring 17 points in the first three minutes to take a 47-36 lead into the fourth quarter. While the Tigers’ offense was roaring, Sterling’s defense was also playing at a high level, holding Walters to eight points in the third stanza.
Sterling also outscored Walters 13-10 in the final frame to earn the 14-point win. Sterling’s Nate Anderson contributed 13 points in the win.
Sterling 63, Fletcher 27
Sterling defeated first-round opponent Fletcher 63-27 with Taliaferro leading the offense with 22 points, followed by Puccio with 17 and Anderson with 10.
Sterling’s win came relatively easy, as the Tigers held a 33-21 halftime lead and continued their dominance in the third quarter, outscoring Fletcher 24-4. Sterling held Fletcher to only one point in the final frame with the Tigers scoring six points as the team’s reserves played most of the fourth quarter.
Sterling defeated Fletcher 52-25 earlier in the season.