Turning to the second half of its regular season, the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team had an 8-2 mark, but immediately confronted a serious challenge -- the kind a contender must go through if it wants to gain a championship.
And the Northstars passed the test, overcoming a terrible start last Thursday night at Corcoran to register a big 61-57 victory over the Cougars.
This is becoming a trend -- CNS comes out slow, falls far behind, then slowly finds its game and, by the final buzzer, has imposed its own will.
Corcoran had every intention of putting CNS away early, and tried to do so, racing to a 22-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.
By halftime, the deficit was 35-23, but a series of perfect defensive adjustments by the Northstars frustrated the Cougars after the break, creating the conditions for a big comeback.
In that pivotal third quarter, CNS outscored Corcoran 18-6 and caught up. From that 41-41 tie, the Northstars would continue to flourish on the attack as it surged ahead, then make key stops on the defensive side to hang on to that edge.
Pat Corbin, with 17 points, led a balanced Northstar attack. Shawn Moonan emerged as a force again, earning 15 points, while Steve Jensen grabbed 11 points. Laquan James (nine points) and Jeff Falvey (seven points) were close behind.
Falvey, Jensen and the rest of the Northstars' interior defense kept Corcoran's Canisius College-bound senior, Elton Frazier, from dominating too much, even though Frazier did finish with 16 points and Keith Love (11 points) and Sean McMahon (10 points) also broke into double figures.
CNS meets Bishop Ludden Saturday night in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at LeMoyne College - where head coach John Haas played during his college days.