In the first quarter, it was center Tanjae Lewis.

In the second, it was point guard Monica Burch.

For most of the second half, it was Tyra Satchell.

Every time one player went cold, another got hot.

When the offense wasn't clicking, Sterling came up with a big play on defense.

The result, a 45-28 win Tuesday over Eastern in the Delsea Holiday Classic, gave a clear picture of why the Silver Knights are The Inquirer's No. 1 team and the most feared squad in South Jersey.

"That's what I think makes us tough," Sterling coach Kate McDonald said. "We'll come at you from inside, we'll come at you from the outside, and I think that we're a very good defensive team, which is what we're working really hard on."

Sterling's greatest strength at Delsea was its depth.

The team overcame the loss of 6-foot-1 forward Rachel Hodge, who was away on a family trip, and the limitations of 1,000-point scorer Kylie O'Donnell, who was held to two points because of a gimpy ankle.

The Knights will face host Delsea, a 67-49 winner Tuesday night over Bridgeton, in Wednesday's tournament final.

Sterling (2-0) went on an 8-0 run early in the first quarter and never looked back. Lewis scored eight of her 12 points in the period, which ended with the Knights ahead, 16-8.

The center might not have scored much in the final three quarters, but she came up with two steals in the second period and finished with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Many of those rebounds served as the catalyst for Burch to score in transition.

The senior had a game-high 17 points, including five of her team's seven points in the second quarter.

Burch's speed and ballhandling skills were on full display against Eastern (2-2). The point guard routinely drove to the basket. Often, those drives led to fouls. Burch went 9 for 12 from the free-throw line in the game.

"We just worked as a team out there today," Burch said. "Everyone just knows how to play with each other on this team."

Satchell, who scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half, echoed Burch.

"I think our greatest strength is our chemistry," she said. "We're very close outside of basketball. We all know that we just have to stay humble and be ready for every game."

Burch scored six points in the third quarter, helping extend her team's lead to 34-19. Burch also led a strong defensive effort that helped keep Eastern at bay in the second half.

Danielle Genay paced Eastern with nine points. Though the young Vikings couldn't overcome an early deficit, coach Joe Murphy was pleased with much of what he saw.

"We're replacing six seniors this season," Murphy said. "So experience, we lack. But heart, we have."

In the first game, Jackie Short's 16 points led four Delsea scorers in double figures, and the host Crusaders ran out to a 42-20 first-half lead.

Tiffany Schemeley added 13 points, Tori Levari contributed 10 points and seven rebounds, and Dominique Hassinger scored 10 for Delsea. Jovan Childers had a game-high 22 points for Bridgeton.

Sterling   16 7 11 11 - 45

Eastern   8 4 7 9 - 28

S: Erica Hoffman 2, Monica Burch 17, Kylie O'Donnell 2, Tyra Satchell 12, Tanjae Lewis 12.

E: Michelle Dixon 6, Cindy Nguyen 2, Danielle Genay 9, Jewel Wilson 6, Sarah Kane 1, Amy Solinski 4.

Bridgeton   9111118-49

Delsea   2220196-67

B: Jovan Childers 22, Karisma Pantaleon 12, Tamyra Smith 11, Tahira Walker 4.

D: Danielle Danyanovitch 6, Aleia Glick 3, Dominique Hassinger 10, Brianna Hunt 9, Tori Levari 10, Tiffany Schemeley 13, Jackie Short 16.

Contact Chris Melchiorre at rallysports@phillynews.com.