All the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team wanted to do in last Tuesday night's Section III Class AA quarterfinal was repeat itself.
The no. 6 seed Northstars had beaten no. 3 seed Fayetteville-Manlius on Jan. 9, and doing so again would mean a date with Henninger in the semifinals at Manley Field House.
However, much was different about this rematch, especially the fact that it was not in the Northstars' spacious home facility, but in the cramped "Hornets' Nest" where powers like Utica Proctor and Henninger had fallen in recent weeks.
And like those teams, CNS would get trapped in that nest.
The end result was a 51-43 defeat that, for the second year in a row, made the Northstars' season end on the road in the sectional quarterfinals.
Each side took something positive out of the game's early sequence. Pat Corbin hit his first three 3-point shots, an indication that he had not lost the deft touch that produced six treys in the Northstars' first-round win over Baldwinsville on Feb. 17.
However, F-M point guard Shane Bush, starting in place of injured senior Ethan Gilbert, hit a pair of 3-pointers of his own, and that seemed to spark the rest of the team as the first quarter ended in a 13-13 tie.
F-M burst in front in the second quarter, led by Patrick Lee, who was bent on avenging his poor performance at CNS a month earlier. Lee had 13 points by halftime, and his inside presence helped thwart the Northstars' attack, too, as the Hornets took a 29-21 lead to the break.
From that point forward, the game turned into a slow grinder. CNS never managed a fast-break point all night as the Hornets got back quickly, then got physical and caused all kinds of CNS frustration.
Corbin felt that frustration the most. Though he finished with a team-high 16 points, he was shadowed by F-M's Scott Kleinklaus and never could regain his early magic touch.