Going in, everyone knows that the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team wants to light it up from the outside, so keeping those shooters from getting open looks is critical if a team wants to beat the Northstars.
Yet what happens when CNS finds a paint presence?
An answer was offered in last Saturday's Syracuse/Rochester Shootout, where the Northstars rode a career performance from eighth-grader Breanna Stewart to a 68-60 victory over Section V representative Edison Tech.
The only other time CNS had met a Section V foe, it had taken its only loss of the season, to Canandaigua, so it certainly wanted a better showing against the Inventors.
Edison relied early on senior center Chelsea Sanders, who put up 10 of her team's first 13 points as the Inventors went out in front.
Mostly, the Northstars used its perimeter shooting to keep up, and got an 10-0 run midway through the second quarter to go in front. By halftime, CNS had a 26-23 edge.
Briefly, Edison reclaimed the lead in the third quarter, but the Northstars took it right back as Stewart, constantly left open by the attention given to the CNS guards, found herself open for easy baskets inside.
A 17-4 run that stretched into the fourth quarter built the Northstars' lead to 51-42, and though Edison would pull back within four in the final minute, Marybeth Egan's four straight free throws sealed a victory.
Stewart was the star, though. Establishing herself as a new force in the paint, she finished with 23 points, a career high, plus a fair amount of rebounds and blocks. And the guards brought balance, too, as Egan added 18 points, Morgan Nandin got 11 points and Nicole Dwyer put up nine points.
Before it met Edison, the Northstars flattened a CNY Counties League opponent last Tuesday night, going to Utica Proctor and whipping the Raiders 51-23.
Playing lights-out defense, CNS all but rendered Proctor inert, building a 45-14 lead by the end of the third quarter as it could relax with its offense.
Egan finished with 12 points and Dwyer added 11 points, as their combined totals matched the entire Proctor output. Stewart and Nandin earned eight points apiece.
At 6-1 on the season following the Edison win, the Northstars host Auburn Tuesday night and make a Friday visit to Henninger.