Despite being ahead by as many as 10 in the second half, the defending champion Eagles were able to pick up a come-from-behind victory. With tears running down her face, Sterling could only watch as the Eagles celebrated having thwarted the Hawks' title hopes.
"After the game I was upset because we worked so hard to get there," Sterling said. "We had the lead but they were a great team. They were so athletic and they caught back up. We let it slip away. It was upsetting for it to end like that."
But being the team leader that she is, Sterling was able to put the disappointment in perspective.
"I am very proud that we got back to the state championship," she said. "The team worked so hard over the summer, and the entire season, to silence everyone's doubts that we couldn't make it back."
Sterling has decided to scale back on basketball and focus on her academics. In the fall, she will attend Towson University to major in bioinformatics.
"I love basketball so much and I may end up playing club or intramurals," Sterling said. "But I want to get started with school before I think about any of that."
Named to the all-county first team are:
Sydney Biniak, Howard. On a team that started four guards, Biniak was crucial to the Lions' success this season. Standing six feet tall, Biniak was just shy of a double-double on the season with averages of 9.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest. The junior post finished as the county's leader in rebounding.
"Sydney is a very talented athlete that brings unique skills for a six-footer to the basketball court," coach Scott Robinson said. "She has great hands, is an excellent passer and can handle the ball like a point guard."
Constantly facing double-teams, Biniak showed off her ability to pass the ball. She stepped to the high post and burnt opposing teams with finding the open teammate on a backdoor cut.
"She has good range on her shot which extends to the 3-point area," Robinson said. "Sydney is an excellent rebounder and can elevate her jump shot in traffic."
Olivia Callan, Long Reach. Callan had a major role in helping the Lightning turn their program around. With her leadership and scoring ability, Long Reach has enjoyed success over the last two seasons (18 county wins) that was unseen for most of the past decade.
"Olivia is probably one of the best players to have put on a Long Reach uniform in quite some time," coach Kelli Cofield said. "She remained in the top-five in scoring all season. She led us statistically, emotionally, on-and-off the court."
During a midseason slide, the senior captain called a players-only meeting to make sure the team got back on the same page. In Long Reach's next game, she had 18 points and six assists to help the team snap a four-game skid.
"Having coached her for four years, she has given me a steady voice on the court," Cofield said. "She often knows what I expect before I say it and did a great job relaying it to the other players."
Callan finished with averages of 11.3 points and 2.3 assists per game. She is undecided on where she will attend college next season but basketball is definitely in her plans.
Nia Crump, Mt. Hebron. A second-year varsity starter, Crump led the well-balanced Vikings in scoring (198 points) and rebounding (210 boards).
She was assigned to guard the opposing team's top post player and accepted the challenge with enthusiasm despite checking in at 5-foot-9.
"Nia was our most physical presence on the inside," coach Tony Bell said. "She came to practice everyday like it was a job. She's very coachable and unselfish. She's the definition of a true team player."
Crump isn't flashy but there aren't many out there who work as hard as she does on the court. On any given night, she can score 20 points (season-high 23 points against C. Milton Wright) or can grab 15 rebounds, depending on what the team needs.