Whatever happened with Laquan James' desperation shot at the end of regulation in last Saturday's final of the Fulton Savings Bank Tournament, the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team was going to at least force overtime with Central Square.
The fact that the heave found the net saved the Northstars four more minutes of hard work against the Red Hawks -- and also produced the team's fourth win in a row.
CNS beat Central Square, 72-69, in the most exciting way possible to punctuate the run to a second consecutive tournament title, following up on its conquest of the Union-Endicott Tournament on Thanksgiving weekend.
All of this began on Friday, when the Norhtstars came to Central Square's gym and met Fulton in the opening round. Strong defense formed the foundation as CNS beat the Red Raiders by a score of 67-45.
Shutting down whatever Fulton tried in the early going, the Northstars patiently waited for its own offense to kick in. Still, it outscored the Red Raiders in every period, culminating with a 23-point fourth-quarter blitz.
Fulton never knew which guy it had to defend. Jeff Falvey and Bradford Dearstine each finished with 12 points, just ahead of Zach Gerald, who earned 10 points.
Right behind them, Craig Shannon earned nine points, while James finished with eight points and Mike McCarthy got seven points.
In the other opening-round contest, Central Square handled Oswego, 86-68, behind Kyle Miller's 35 points, including seven successful 3-pointers. CNS knew that, in the final, it had to keep Miller from a similar outburst.
Still, the contest would be a classic, with neither side able to build any kind of lead. CNS led by a point, 34-33, at the break and built the margin to 52-47 by the end of the third quarter.
Roaring back, the Red Hawks mostly used eight combined 3-pointers from Tyler Ross (five of them) and Miller, as they each finished with 18 points.