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Sterling Win Slips Away in Final Seconds Against Bethel

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By Sterling College Athletics

 

Sterling, Kan.-In the world of basketball, this is the time of year you want to be playing your best ball. For the Warriors, they continue to impress and surprise. Saturday night was no exception even though they fell just short of an upset victory. The Bethel College Threshers hit a pair of free throws in the last 5 seconds to steal a win away from the Warriors in the last seconds, 76-75.

BOX SCORE

Going into Saturday’s game, Sterling was facing a grueling finish to the regular season taking on 3 of the top 4 teams in the KCAC over the last 5 games of the regular season. Sterling was missing two starters due to injury from previous games as well. On one hand, the way they handled adversity was admirable, on the other, if you ask any of the members of the team, it was definitely a game they should have won.

Coming into the game, Bethel was sitting in the #4 spot in the KCAC standings, and Sterling, after a couple of conference losses, is sitting in the #7 slot as the conference tournament approaches. The first half was a back-and-forth battle between two physical basketball teams. Sterling held a 5 point lead early on, but Bethel came right back and took a 6 point lead. With just under 4 minutes remaining, Bethel was up just 4, but was able to extend the lead to 10 as the teams headed into the locker room. Sterling was trailing 46-36 at the half. Nine different Warriors put points on the board in the first half as the team figured out the best way to work together in the absence of a couple of key players. Derrian Reed led in both points and rebounds at the break.

The Warriors turned to Kavonte Kinney in the second half where he scored 15 of his game high 21 points. It took Sterling a while to break through and finally gain ground on the Bethel halftime lead. With just over ten minutes to play in regulation, Sterling was still down 10. The Warriors went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 2 at 62-60. Reed, Kinney, and Lucas Briar led the charge back into the game. Bethel hit a pair of free throws before Briar hit a 3 to cut the lead to 1. Bethel made another layup, but back to back baskets by Kinney gave the Warriors the lead with 4 minutes to play in regulation.

The Warriors gave up another basket, but Kinney once again had an answer backing into the lane, hitting the short jumper, and getting the foul. He made the ensuing free throw and Sterling built a 5 point lead over the next two possessions. Bethel brought the game back to just one in the last minute of play. With time winding down and the shot clock off, Sterling got a stop and Briar got the rebound, was fouled, and hit both free throws with 11 seconds to play. Sterling was up 75-72 with time winding down. On Bethel’s next possession, the Warriors fouled and sent Clifford Byrd to the line for the Threshers where he hit both free throws. Timeouts ensued. Sterling struggled to get the ball inbounds and threw it away to the aggressive Bethel defense. On the turnover, Sterling fouled Byrd again and sent him to the line, this time Sterling was holding on to just a 1 point lead with 5 seconds left in regulation. Byrd hit both free throws and Sterling was down 1 with just enough time to get up the court and get a shot off. Sterling called Reed’s number as he quickly moved the ball up the court and pulled up for a three point shot on the right wing. Everything looked good with the ball in the air, but it fell just short, as did the Warrior’s hopes of pulling off the upset. Sterling ended up losing 76-75 in a high intensity battle.

Kavonte Kinney scored 21 points to lead all scorers. Derrian Reed had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Lucas Briar added 15 points in the loss. Sterling shot very well hitting 48% from the field and 80% from the free throw line. They won the rebound and assists battle as well.

Sterling takes to the road and will take on Friends University on Wednesday at 8 pm. The Warriors are holding on to the #7 spot in the KCAC, currently good enough to make the KCAC postseason tournament, but they will face the top 2 teams in the league in their last 4 games. Saturday, February 11, Sterling returns home to face the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes for Senior night. The Senior men will be celebrated immediately following the women’s basketball game.

Be sure to check for news and updates on Sterling Warrior Athletics on Facebook (/SCWarriors), Twitter (@SterlingCSports), and Instagram (sterlingcsports), as well as the hashtag #SwordsUp. Watch the Warriors’ live home events on the Sterling College Sports Network.