Houston Sterling High School head boys basketball coach Andrea Young told his team to just keep playing.

Facing District 24-5A rival Madison in a must-win situation having already lost the first-round encounter and needing a win to notch a tie for first place in the district standings, Sterling listened to the coach.

“Things go good, things go bad, we had to keep playing,” Young said. “That’s what we did and we pulled it out in the end.”

Sterling 6-foot-7 post Corey Nickerson picked up three first-quarter fouls and a fourth in the second stanza. Despite the adversity, the Raiders refused to wilt.

Trevor King, Blake Johnson, Gecoby Burton, Cameron Hall, Dezra Thomas and Omar Wallace played their roles. Javion Wallace hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raiders a 50-46 advantage at halftime.

Nickerson scored Sterling’s first two buckets of the second half and played the remainder of the game. The junior scored a team-high 19 points and hit the game-winning free throw in the final seconds to provide the 81-80 victory,

“I told him not to do anything foolish and just stand his ground,” Young said. “He was able to do that, get some rebounds, score for us and help us out a lot in the second half.

Madison led by five points twice in the third quarter, but only took a 68-66 edge into the final quarter.

King finished with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Thomas had 10 points, Burton 9 and Johnson 8.

Both schools are 9-2 in district play. Furr has one loss in league play but must play Madison and Sterling in back-to-back upcoming contests.

Tim Moore scored a game-high 21 points for the Marlins.

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