Sterling Heights Survives Third-Quarter Scare From Port Huron
By Randy Castro
One bad quarter nearly cost Sterling Heights a victory.
Up 13 at halftime, the Stallions were on the wrong end of a 17-1 run in the third quarter, and had to come from behind in the fourth to earn a 46-42 victory over Port Huron Thursday night.
“I showed them the stats from the third quarter,” Sterling Heights head coach Dan Kreps said. “Stats don’t lie. We got outplayed in the third quarter.”
A Katie Schultz 3-pointer with 7:40 remaining in the helped Sterling Heights (4-11; 3-6 MAC White) get the lead back at 33-32. The Stallions would not trail again.
It helped that Sterling Heights went 11 of 13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
“I like the way that we fought back,” Kreps said. “To watch a double-digit lead go away, we could have easily put our heads down, but we’re getting out of here with a win.”
Maria Berishaj led Sterling Heights with a game-high 17 points in the victory; Tatyana Hardwick finished with 11 points.
Hannah Jefferson finished with 13 points in the loss for Port Huron (2-14; 0-9 MAC White). Alexis Cantu scored eight points, while Lindsey Crane added seven.
Playing to a seven-all tie midway through the first quarter, the Stallions ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 14-7 lead into the second quarter. Sterling Heights effectively employed its backcourt trap to build on its lead — taking a 29-16 lead into the locker room.
The Big Reds took advantage in a lapse of intensity from the Stallions in the third quarter, opening on a 13-0 run. Sterling Heights’ lone points in the third came on a Danielle Kluz free throw, as Port Huron took a 33-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We needed to make something happen; the game was kind of slow for us in the first half,” Port Huron head coach Becky Gilbert said. “We had trouble with the trap, so we had to figure out how we were going to break that and take care of the ball.”
The Big Reds were unable to sustain momentum after Schultz’s 3-pointer. While Sterling Heights shot 84.6 percent from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, Port Huron went just 3 of 8 (37. percent) from the line.
“The plan was to keep the ball in our court and doing what we could to stay ahead,” Gilbert said. “We missed some key shots and struggled at the free throw line.
“I thought our girls played hard and gave a great effort.”
The two teams will square off again on Feb. 7 at Sterling Heights.