Newton Falls climbed out of a 10-point hole to tie the game in regulation, then spurted away to beat Waterloo.
By BOB ROTH
ROOTSTOWN -- The Newton Falls High's girls basketball team faced a bleak situation in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's Division III sectional championship game.
With 31/2 minutes remaining, the Tigers trailed Waterloo 39-29.
But, Newton Falls went on an 11-1 run to finish the period, tying the score and sending the game in overtime, where the Tigers continued to dominate in a 47-40 victory at Rootstown High.
Newton Falls (18-4) will play Bedford Chanel in a district semifinal next Thursday.
Sterling stars: A flu-afflicted Desiree Sterling topped a handful of leaders for the Tigers, scoring a game-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and five steals.
Sterling's 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining in the first half gave Newton Falls a 24-23 lead at the intermission, which was extended to 27-23 when Allison Huber made a 3-pointer at the outset of the third quarter.
Then the Tigers offense went silent, with only one field goal in the next 12 minutes, until Kellie Drake drained a 3 with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was 40-36 a short time later, when Sterling stole an in-bounds pass and scored; and then she tied the score with 1:27 remaining by converting an offensive rebound.
Lead for good: Newton Falls took the lead for good with 2:43 remaining in overtime on a basket by Huber. Sterling added a basket and a free throw, then Huber and Lora Mason sank foul shots to finish the scoring.
"I asked the kids if they wanted their season to end and I said 'if not let us dig deep in our hearts and step up our play' and they did," said Newton Falls coach Kelly Nelson, about a pep talk she gave when the Tigers trailed 39-29.
Huber, a 5-foot-6 senior, finished with a game-high nine rebounds. Drake had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Waterloo (16-6) had eight players score, led by 5-9 senior Ashley Cooke's, who had eight.
"This was a very good team we played tonight and to beat them you have to play a full game and we didn't do that," said Waterloo coach Todd Wise.