A reduced schedule this winter (18 games, instead of 20 in years past) has led to some long gaps in the middle of the season, and the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team has one of the longest.
Following the Northstar's game against Henninger, it would not play for 14 days, resuming only at its own holiday tournament on Dec. 29.
And given the way things have started, one cannot blame CNS if it dreads this respite because, as of now, just about everything is going well.
In fact, the Northstars are 5-0, its opening surge capped off by a terrific home effort against Henninger Tuesday night that resulted in a 73-52 victory over the Black Knights.
Over the years, Henninger, in its role as one of Central New York's most preeminent basketball programs, had positively tormented CNS, both in the regular season and playoffs.
But this winter, forced to replace five starters from its 2008-09 team that reached the Section III Class AA finals, the Black Knights had started 1-3. The Northstars, bent on reversing the one-sided course of this rivalry, would add to Henninger's misery.
A fired-up CNS defense limited the Black Knights to just six points in the first quarter. And even when Henninger's attack perked up in the second quarter, the Northstars took them apart on the other end, outscoring them 27-15 and extending its margin to 40-21.
CNS spent the rest of the game ably protecting that comfortable margin. Zach Coleman, in particular, had a great night, earning 22 points to lead both sides as he made Henninger pay for giving too much attention to Andy Falvey, who still had nine points.
Behind Coleman was a well-balanced attack where Josh Williams and Anthony DelCoro both poured in 10 points, with Falvey, Vaughndell Bradley, Eric Munoz (seven points each) and Deyon Smith Jr. (six points) also productive. Henninger's Kavon Dalee, with 17 points, was the only player on his side to score in double figures.