STERLING – The Golden Warriors had a chance to run and hide from Streator in the first half of Friday's boys basketball game in Musgrove Fieldhouse.
When that didn't happen, the Golden Warriors needed a player to step up and prevent a damaging loss. Enter Zach Rehmert.
The senior forward scored 27 points, including nine in the final 4 minutes, to help Sterling pull out a 55-50 victory over the Bulldogs in a Northern Illinois Big 12 contest.
Rehmert's point total was a season-high, eclipsing a 26-point effort against Dixon on Dec. 8. He also dropped in 9 of 10 free throws, including 5 of 6 in the final 1:10, to help hold off a furious Streator rally.
"The guys trust me to knock down free throws, and that's why I want the ball in my hands," Rehmert said. "I have teammates that trust me to do that, and I was able to do so tonight."
Sterling (7-8, 2-1) led 25-11 with a minute left in the second quarter, but Streator's William Phillips hit a pair of baskets to slice the lead to 25-15 at halftime.
A basket from Warriors' reserve forward Sterling Thornton with 55 seconds left in the third quarter put Sterling up 36-23, but again Streator fought back. A basket by Marcelis Edwards, followed by a three at the buzzer by Nolan Sokol, made it 36-28 entering the final quarter.
The Bulldogs (5-9, 0-4) continued to whittle away, getting to within 48-45 after a pair of free throws from Phillips with 1:37 remaining. Streator had chances to really make things interesting, but missed 3-pointers from Max Vickers with 1:15 left and Sokol with 30 seconds remaining sealed its fate.
Streator coach Beau Doty didn't have a major issue with the shot selection down the stretch, but didn't seem too wild about it either.
"We wanted to take the best shot that was available, and I'm not really sure if that was," Doty said. "We like to get the ball inside primarily, but it didn't happen there. The bottom line is we needed to shoot better."
Streator shot 38.4 percent (20-for-52) from the field, but dug itself a hole by missing its first 12 shots from the field in the second quarter. Sterling turned an 11-10 deficit into a 25-11 lead during that stretch.
"It was 13-11 and they went on that spurt and gapped us," Doty said. "That was big, because we were playing catch-up the rest of the way."
Phillips led Streator with 19 points, while Josh Houch and Micah Swagert added eight each. Sokol, the team's leading scorer at 14 points per game, scored just seven. The Bulldogs also converted just 4 of 13 free throws.
No Sterling player besides Rehmert scored more than five points, and his play largely prevented what could have a hard to swallow home-court loss to the struggling Bulldogs.
"We had to find a way to come out and get the job done, no matter how hard it may be," Rehmert said.
Star of the game: Zach Rehmert, Sterling, 27 points, 4 rebounds
Key performers: William Phillips, Streator, 19 points, 2 steals; J.D. Sheppard, Sterling, 5 points, 5 rebounds
Up next: Sterling at Rock Island, 7:30 p.m. Saturday