With less than two minutes to play and Sierra High trailing for the first time in the contest, seizing the first win of the season appeared to be slipping away from the Timberwolves. But a pair of clutch free throws from sophomore Celine Barber helped seal the deal in Sierra’s 61-54 win over Stagg High.
The Timberwolves clearly were the contests’ more dominant club, stifling Stagg on the offensive end, and converting outside with Barber and Asia Cortez coupled with the inside presence of Shelby Shirron and Lia Unterholzner.
Sierra held a 31-23 lead at the half, and seemingly put the game away for good with a near perfect third quarter. Sierra held the Delta Queens to a single third quarter basket, but Stagg (2-6) rebounded, mounting a ferocious comeback in the fourth, erasing a 16-point Sierra lead by taking a 54-53 lead with 1:48 remaining.
The lead-changing points would be Stagg’s last, as the Timberwolves did away with their horrific second-half free throw shooting, converting four of their final six attempts.
“It could have went either way, but I think the girls showed a lot of poise,” Sierra head coach Steven Unterholzner said. “It’s tough coming into a game like this without having tasted that win.
“This was a good situation for us to be in to learn how to play a game like that.”
Barber was impressive with a 17 point outing, scoring points in each quarter and sinking a 3-pointer in the midst of a Sierra 11-2 run to open the ballgame. Unterholzner added 13 points and Shirron chipped in with eight.
Sierra (1-7) was clearly dependent on its guard play to keep the team on task. Kelley Paredes and Cortez handled the bulk of the ball handling, while Barber and Jessica Lopez also provided quality minutes in the Sierra backcourt.
The Timberwolves will not be back on the court until Dec. 29 when they meet up with the Riverbank Bruins.
Sierra 27, Stagg 25
The Timberwolves (4-3) improved to a game over .500 with a two-point win over Stagg Thursday.
Keanna Barber had four points, six rebounds and three steals to lead Sierra, while Marissa LaQuaglia added four points and four steals. Alexa McIntyre led all scorers with eight points.