Even though a no. 1 seed might not be in its possession next week when the Section III Class AA playoffs start, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team is still in possession of a full amount of confidence.
Whatever might have been taken away in January home defeats to Corcoran and Oswego was restored -- and then some -- by going to Liverpool last Tuesday night and taking out the Warriors 60-48.
Everything was set up as a night of magical emotions for the defending Class AA champion Warriors. It was Senior Night for six Liverpool players, including Syracuse University-bound senior Tyler Ash, with all the speeches, balloons and flowers that go along with it.
Plus, it was a great rivalry game that carried serious weight, with CNS at 14-3 and Liverpool at 13-4. Whoever won here might move up one or two seeds in the ultimate playoff bracket.
Together, the two sides played an exciting first half. Each side did what it wanted -- in the case of CNS, this meant mixing in solid post work by Breanna Stewart and Shannon Hickin with the outside shooting of Nicole Dwyer and Morgan Nandin.
For Liverpool, that meant Ash would take over. The senior had 13 points in the game's first 12 minutes, everything from driving lay-ups to 3-pointers, a star turn that had the Warriors leading for most of the first half.
However, CNS made its own surge late in the second quarter, going up by as much as five. And even though Liverpool came back and tied it 30-30 at halftime, the Northstars still felt good -- it just had to improve its defense.
The solution head coach Eric Smith used was to close ranks on the paint to keep forwards Kristin Murrock and Sharon Dennis from getting open to take one of Ash's passes and convert. This would force Liverpool into more outside shooting, something that wasn't the team's strength.