Just another basket or two, and the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team might have found itself playing for the Section III Class AA title last winter.
But when the Northstars fell just short in a pulse-pounding 57-54 loss to Oswego, it left there fully motivated to come back in 2007-08 and win it all.
CNS has reason to feel that way. Four starters are back from last year's 16-6 squad, as only Corissa Quattrini graduated.
This full load of experience displayed itself last weekend in the Binghamton suburbs, where the Northstars claimed the championship of the Vestal Tournament.
Taking on Johnson City (Section IV) in the opening round, it was never a contest, as CNS pounded its way to a 68-32 victory.
Before Johnson City could even breathe, CNS was putting up big offensive numbers, eventually building a 55-20 lead through three periods before all the starters got a rest.
Marybeth Egan led the way, earning 18 points, half of them from successful 3-point shots. Nicole Dwyer finished with 10 points, as she, along with Morgan Nandin (nine points), both hit on a pair of 3-pointers. Shannon Hickin worked hard for her eight points, as Breanna Stewart got seven points and Nicole Garvey contributed six points.
A day later, CNS met another Section IV school, Chenango Forks, in the championship game. And though it wasn't as one-sided, the Northstars still bashed the Blue Devils 48-32.
Maintaining the solid, consistent defense it played on Friday, CNS never let Forks get more than nine points in any period as it gained a 41-25 margin by the start of the fourth quarter.
Dwyer, with three 3-pointers, matched Egan (the tournament MVP) as they both finished with 15 points. Hickin had eight points and Nandin added seven points.
CNS, in all, plays its first six games on the road, including Friday's visit to Canandaigua, which precedes a Tuesday trip to Oswego to try and get payback for that close playoff defeat.