When the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team conquered Oswego early this season, it helped propel the Northstars to the top of the list of Section III Class AA championship favorites.
Now, though, CNS might be back where it started, mainly because the Buccaneers came to town last Friday night and exacted some revenge, leaning on its defense to hand the Northstars a 53-41 defeat.
That win was Oswego's 10th in a row following a 3-3 start, and dropped CNS to 14-3. It might also propel the Bucs to the eventual top seed in the Class AA playoffs that start in less than three weeks' time.
Unlike the overtime loss to Corcoran Jan. 11 where the Northstars led most of the way, the trouble in this game came early, when things went too well.
CNS blanked Oswego in the game's first five minutes and built a 7-0 advantage. The fact that it didn't grab a bigger lead would prove important right away, as the Bucs rallied and inched in front, 9-8, by the end of the first quarter.
Mainly, what went wrong was that the Northstars' pair of forwards, Breanna Stewart and Shannon Hickin, got two quick fouls each and went to the bench.
This allowed Oswego's 6-2 senior forward, Nikki Carroll, to park herself in the paint without much resistance. Also, the Bucs could deal with guards Marybeth Egan, Nicole Dwyer and Morgan Nandin one-on-one, keeping them from getting any open looks.
Together, this defense kept the Northstars in check, as it had just two field goals in the last seven minutes of the half. Lauren Hunt gained nine points for Oswego as it built a 22-14 margin going into halftime.
Carroll took over in the third quarter, earning seven points in that frame as the CNS deficit grew to 38-23. At one point early in the final period, it got to 42-24.