Feb 20, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A year has passed, and judging by the time and situation, absolutely nothing for the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team has changed.
The Northstars are a no. 4 seed, moving through the Section III Class AA playoffs, looking to knock off top seed Oswego in the semifinal round Saturday at Liverpool High School.
This was exactly the same script as 2007, except for the semifinal being played in Baldwinsville.
Back then, CNS came quite close to reaching the title game, falling to Buccaneers 57-54, Now, it wants a different ending.
Of course, it has already been a satisfying week, if for the single reason that the Northstars had knocked out no. 5 seed Liverpool, in an impressive 72-52 victory during Tuesday night’s Class AA quarterfinal.
Having beaten these same Warriors two weeks earlier, on Feb. 5, CNS had plenty of reason to feel good, even if Liverpool had stars like Tyler Ash and Sharon Dennis that had helped the team win a Class AA championship 12 months ago.
From a shaky start and a 4-4 tie, the Northstars broke out of it by going on a 12-0 late in the first quarter, which put CNS ahead for good.
Try what it could, the Warriors found it impossible to deal with Breanna Stewart.
In her best overall performance to date, the eighth-grader hit on all kinds of shots, from hooks to fall-away jumpers, dominated on the boards and even blocked some shots. She finished with 23 points.
“She is just relentless,” said head coach Eric Smith. “She wants to compete on the biggest stage, and it doesn’t matter what gets put in front of her.”
With Stewart on fire, CNS hitting its share of 3-pointers and three Liverpool starters (Ash, Dennis and Kristin Murrock) all getting into early foul trouble, the Northstars led by as much as 15 in the first half.
Liverpool refused to go away, though, taking out more than half that margin and, by the third quarter, found itself down by just seven, 39-32.
If there was any cause for concern, CNS didn’t show it. Instead, it closed that third period on an 11-2 run and never let the Warriors get close again, despite Ash getting most of her 20 points in the second half.
“They showed some resiliency,” said Smith. “They know how good they can be when they play hard.”
And great as Stewart was, she didn’t have to work alone. Marybeth Egan steadily produced baskets all night and had 21 points, including three of the teams’ five 3-pointers, with Morgan Nandin adding 13 points. CNS, as a whole, was terrific at the foul line, converting 21 of 25 free throws.