Friday night might have been her team's first game. But for Sterling's Anyssa Sanchez, the basketball season started when school let out last June.
"Ever since our seniors from last year graduated, we've been working since summer to make sure that we were ready to go right away - and not just one or two players," said Sanchez, a senior guard. "As soon as the ball went in the air, we wanted to be ready to play as a team."
The preparation showed. On the game's first possession, Sanchez came up with a steal, ran the length of the floor, and finished with a layup.
The play set the tone for a solid all-around effort for Sterling in a 62-44 home win over Colonial Conference Liberty Division rival Haddonfield (0-1).
"When that [first play] happened, I thought, 'It's going to be a good game,' " said Sanchez, who led Sterling with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. "We just want to make sure we do everything we can to have a good and long season."
Senior guard Tyra Satchell added seven points, nine assists, five boards, and five steals.
It was no surprise that Sanchez and Satchell had big games. The two have been rocks for the Knights their entire careers.
But what stood out most for Sterling was its depth.
Junior guard Latasha Sparrow came off the bench to score all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter. Junior forward Leilani Naone-Carter added 11. And a host of other players contributed to a smothering defensive effort.
"I was very happy with the energy," said Sterling coach Kate McDonald. "We try to preach team ball, and that's fueled by the selflessness of .
"We're very well-rounded this year, we're athletic. There's just good chemistry on this team."
Added Sanchez: "For the seniors, this was our last first game at Sterling. We knew we wanted to come out with a bang."
Haddonfield was led by junior forward Hayley Raymond's 16 points and freshman forward Taylor Sehdev's 14 points.
"You have to give Sterling credit. They're athletic, they play good defense, and they attack the basket," Haddonfield coach Dave Kosa said. "We definitely have to go back to the drawing board, especially defensively."
Haddonfield 5 12 9 18 - 44
Sterling 13 11 22 16 - 62
H: Ali LaMaina 5, Hayley Raymond 16, Maddie Betley 4, Grace Bealor 3, Collee Tritt 2, Taylor Sehdev 14.
S: Tori Shinkowitz 4, Mayia Rawlinson 7, Tyra Satchell 7, Anyssa Sanchez 23, Latasha Sparrow 10, Leilani Naone-Carter 11.