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Stewart leads CNS girls past Liverpool again

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.

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