Sternberger carries Kingfisher to win over Victory Christian
The smallest player on the floor made the biggest difference in the game.
Sophomore point guard Jett Sternberger scored a game-high 21 points and made clutch plays in the fourth quarter to lift Kingfisher to a 39-29 victory Friday night over Victory Christian in a 4A boys semifinal at State Fair Arena.
The win puts No. 3 Kingfisher (27-3) into Saturday night's state title game for the first time in school history. Sternberger was the biggest factor in the win.
“He is most of the time,” Kingfisher coach Jared Reese said. “Our other guys are great players, but we really don't have a second point guard. He obviously has the ball in his hands a lot. He had a great game.”
In a game that saw seven lead changes and three ties, Sternberger's play in the fourth quarter carried the Yellowjackets down the stretch, scoring nine of his team's last 10 points.
The game was tied 29-29 when Sternberger's 3-pointer, his third of the game, with just under three minutes left gave Kingfisher the lead for good.
No. 4 Victory Christian (24-5) turned the ball over on the next possession and the Yellowjackets put the ball in their point guard's hands, forcing the Conquerors to foul. Kingfisher scored its last seven points from the free-throw line, six by Sternberger.
“We are exceptional free-throw shooters, so if that bonus is out there we like to spread the court so we can get to the free-throw line,” Reese said.
Victory Christian had the size advantage, but Kingfisher stayed in the game with outside shooting. The Yellowjackets hit seven 3-pointers in the game and scored just four 2-point baskets. Trey Green scored 9 points on three 3-pointers and Marco Charqueno hit a trey for the Yellowjackets.
“We did our best to get in (the paint) and kick out as best we could and get our teammates shots,” Sternberger said.
Victory Christian made just two buckets from behind the 3-point line, misfiring on three in the final two minutes of the game.
Now, Sternberger will be playing for a state championship in an arena where he swept floors as a ball boy during state tournament games not long ago.
“Jett grew up sweeping these floors all through his middle-school days,” Reese said. “He's dreamed about playing in the Big House. It's something he's dreamed about his whole life.”
And now he's living the dream.
Ed Godfrey, Staff Writer