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Ottawa junior Cassidy Rice (No. 11) goes up for a basket Thursday as Sterling’s Kiara Harris watches. The Lady Pirates topped Sterling 46-35 in Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division action in Ottawa to force a tie atop the league standings.
Ottawa’s Lindsey Greene (left) and Sterling’s Raquel Romano eye a loose ball Thursday in Ottawa.
OTTAWA — After a loss earlier in the season to Sterling, the Ottawa girls basketball team had a bitter taste in their mouths and desperately wanted to get rid of that feeling.
The Lady Pirates found a way to cleanse their pallets with a 46-35 victory over the Lady Golden Warriors Thursday to force a tie among the top of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division with Sterling.
Both teams are 7-1 with two league games remaining.
“To say the least the girls were hungry for this game,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “After losing the close game like we did up at Sterling the girls were ready to get this game going. We started strong and finished strong and took care of the ball on top of forcing a lot of turnovers.”
Taking care of the ball may be an understatement.
The Lady Pirates committed just five turnovers (one in the second half) and forced 21 Lady Golden Warriors turnovers.
Lindsey Greene helped lead the way for the OTHS defense, and was in the face of Lady Warriors defensively all night long.
In the opening quarter several forced turnovers led to 3-pointers from Jasmine Bailey and Catie Carlson.
Jaleesa Kindred added a pair of shots to give Ottawa 13-4 lead after the first eight minutes of action.
Defensively, not only did the Lady Pirates limit the Lady Warriors to just four first-quarter points they forced eight turnovers.
In the second quarter, Sterling cut down on the turnovers and got hot from the field.
Kiarra Harris dominated the boards in the first half and a stick back along with a jumper from Stephanie Kester cut the Lady Pirates’ lead to 17-16.
Carlson continued her strong play and hit a pair of jumpers, including a shot just before the end of the half that gave the Lady Pirates a 21-18 halftime lead. “I think on offense we set some good screens, especially early on and got some open looks because of it,” Cooper said. “At times tonight I thought Catie (Carlson) really took over the game. She is tough to defend because she can beat you off the dribble and step back and hit the jumper.”
Harris looked as if she was going to continue her assault on the boards as her putback gave the Lady Warriors a 24-23 lead.
However, Ottawa settled down and started to do a better job beating Harris and company to the ball and limiting any second-chance points Sterling was hoping to get going.
“Cassidy Rice and Mady Toynton really just got some hustle rebounds out there tonight,” Cooper said. “They just beat people to the ball and I thought that’s where we started to extend the lead a bit.”
Along with the hustle plays, Carlson again was hot from the field hitting for six points and taking a 35-28 victory into the final quarter.
Right out of a timeout minutes later, Bailey drained two 3-pointers to push the Lady Pirates lead to 41-28 en route to a 46-35 victory.
Carlson led OTHS with 13 points, while Bailey added nine points for the Lady Pirates. Sterling was led by Kester with nine points and Harris with 16 rebounds.