Months of anticipation finally turned into sweet reality when Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool's boys basketball teams renewed their neighborhood rivalry Sunday night on a new and much bigger stage - the Carrier Dome.
In the featured game of the inaugural Holiday Tip-off Classic, the Northstars led from start to finish and had every aspect of its game, especially the defense, in sharp form as it beat the Warriors by a score of 65-49.
CNS began the season in a new role - that of defending Section III Class AA champions. Though many standouts from that title team, like Andy Falvey, John Howell, Eric Munoz and Anthony DelCoro (who hit the banked-in, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to knock off Utica Proctor in the sectional final) departed, head coach John Haas had a solid core, including Zach Coleman, Josh Williams, Elliott Boyce and Riley Moonan, back for more.
As for Liverpool and its veteran coach, Jerry Wilcox, the departure of forward Jesse Gates hurt - but the return of the likes of Connor Rogers and Ian Hamm gave the Warriors an inside presence that, in theory, was supposed to prove potent against the smaller Northstars lineup.
Caring little for theories, CNS out-rebounded LIverpool for large portions of the night anyway. It roared ahead 10-2 before the game was four minutes old as Coleman capped it off with a pair of baskets, including a steal and lay-up.
Even a time-out by Wilcox did little to wake up the Warrior attack, and it trailed 16-7 after one quarter, dealing with the fact that CNS was using up to 10 players, the kind of depth that few teams at this level possess.
Liverpool stayed cold in the second period, allowing the Northstars to work through it own issues without any penalty. Vaughndell Brantley, coming off the bench, got five quick points, and CNS continued to surge until, at halftime, it possessed a 31-16 lead.