Dec 23, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Right as the huge winter snowstorm raced up the East Coast, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team spent the weekend of Dec. 18-20 in New Jersey, competing against elite foes in the Festival of the Phoenix Tournament at University High School.
The point was twofold — to give the Northstars’ highly-touted sophomore center, Breanna Stewart, another big showcase, and to also give CNS a pair of big tests, to prepare them for the meat of its schedule.
Both games would prove to be close, including the Dec. 18 opening-round battle against St. Francis where a late rally fell just short in a 56-54 loss.
A wild first quarter saw St. Francis outscore the Northstars 21-16. Yet even though CNS held the opponent to six points in the second quarter, it could not catch up, still behind 27-23 at the break.
They remained on even terms the rest of the night, CNS sneaking within striking distance at the end, but unable to tie it or prevail.
Stewart was impressive again, registering 27 points, exactly half her team’s output. Brittany Paul had nine points, while Kelsey Mattice produced eight points.
Following a day of rest and recreation (and watching the snow pile up in New Jersey), CNS played again on Dec. 20 and lost to Columbia (N.J.) in a 50-44 decision.
Here, the Northstars led, 10-7, after one period, only to get in a long slump in the game’s middle stages as Columbia outscored them 34-17 in the middle two periods.
All game long, Columbia packed the middle, leaving Stewart (who finished with 11 points) little room to operate. CNS could not overcome this with perimeter shots, even though Jamilla Maxim set a career mark with 13 points (including a pair of 3-pointers) and Paul added 11 points.
A bit closer to home, CNS went to Utica Proctor last Wednesday, facing a Raider side still tough despite the loss of star guard Brianna Kiesel for most of the season with a broken wrist.
Toughened by the trip, and ready to tear loose again, CNS did so, dominating Proctor in the second quarter and cruising to a 59-34 victory.
If there were any doubts about the Northstars’ intentions, they were erased in that pivotal second period. With a modest 12-8 lead, CNS turned up defensive pressure, forced turnovers and got easy baskets on both ends while making a 21-5 run.
Eventually, the margin got to 54-26 before the starters rested in the fourth quarter. Before sitting, Stewart poured in 25 points, while Paul and Abbey Timpano earned eight points apiece. Kelsey Mattice added six points. No Proctor player scored in double figures.
Having earned some holiday rest, CNS would get tested right away in 2010 with a pair of big games — going to Oswego on Jan. 5, then hosting Fayetteville-Manlius three days later in the first Northstars-Hornets encounter since last year’s Section III Class AA final.