OTTAWA — The Ottawa girls basketball team went up double digits midway through the third quarter and then withstood a furious comeback by Sterling for a 51-47 victory Friday in Kingman Gym that kept the Lady Pirates atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division.
Ottawa led 28-21 at halftime and came out playing even better in the third quarter.
On the Lady Pirates’ first possession of the half, Cassidy Rice nailed a 3-point basket to give Ottawa a 10-point lead.
About a minute later, Jasmin Bailey hit one of her own to make it a 36-23 lead for the Lady Pirates, who looked to be in total control of the contest.
Then it seemed every crazy bounce of the ball started to find its way to an open Sterling shooter.
Kaitlyn Bauer got a fast-break layup and then Kaileen Terrock stepped behind the arc and drained a 3 to make it a 36-31 game.
Shortly after that, Kiarra Harris capped off a 10-0 run with a short jump shot.
Just before the end of the quarter, Jessica Wignes ended the Lady Pirates’ drought with a jump shot just outside of the lane.
“Give Sterling credit, they played well,” Ottawa coach Mike Cooper said. “On the other hand, there was a couple balls rolling around on the ground and happened to find someone from Sterling for a layup.”
In the fourth quarter, Gabby Sandoval hit a jumper in the lane and then Harris got a putback to take a 39-38 lead over the Lady Pirates.
Ottawa came right back down the floor and regained the lead with a 3-pointer from Bailey.
The two teams continued to go back and forth with another jumper from Sandoval to tie the game at 45-45.
On the Lady Pirates’ next possession, Jill Wignes made a bounce pass to Catie Carlson, who put in a bucket for a 47-45 lead.
Sterling came down and tied the game once again.
Rice continued her solid play with a strong drive to the basket that found the bottom of the hoop to give the Lady Pirates a two-point lead.
But, as the Lady Warriors were trying to come back down the court and tie the game yet again, Jill Wignes came away with a big steal.
With a minute remaining in the game, Ottawa played keep away — and despite only four team fouls — Sterling was reluctant to foul.
Then with 14.1 seconds left, Ottawa was finally in the bonus, but Carlson missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Seconds later, Ottawa was looking to inbound the ball and was called for five seconds, giving the ball back to Sterling with less than 10 seconds left.
Sterling started to drive to the hoop to tie the game, but the ball was passed to Terrock, who was sitting at the top of the arc.
Carlson had other plans in mind as she came up with a block to make sure Ottawa kept the lead.
Bailey hit two free throws to seal the win.
“I know Sterling took the lead briefly there, but we just kept our composure,” Carlson said. “I saw (Kiarra) Harris with the ball and thinking they would take it to the hoop, then she passed it back out and I just hustled to get there and was lucky enough to get the block.”
Ottawa (15-2, 5-0 NIB 12 West) was led by Rice with 19 points, while Bailey added 12.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com.