When the Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball teams collide Friday night, the Northstars could clinch the top seed in the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Just on the surface, both CNS and Liverpool were both coming off close wins last Tuesday night -- but the Warriors' 59-56 victory over Henninger felt a lot better than the Northstars' 56-52 escape at Rome Free Academy.
Of the two sets of Black Knights, Henninger was, by far, the more accomplished side, and were a dangerous opponent even with a modest 10-7 mark.
Knowing this, Liverpool dominated the first quarter, roaring to an 18-7 lead. That cooled off, though, and Henninger started a comeback that stretched through the next two periods and saw the visitors climb within one, 46-45.
All through the final period, the two sides traded points, the tension rising. Not until Connor Rogers converted of three crucial free throws in the last minute did the Warriors get away for good.
Overall, Rogers led with 17 points, with Adam Misener hitting on three 3-pointers to account for most of his 12 points and Ian Hamm also getting 12 points. Cam Jones had eight points. Henninger saw Brandon Hanks (14 points), Kayon Delee(13 points) and Kadeem Johnson (10 points) hit double figures.
Meanwhile, CNS was having real trouble at RFA, against a team coached by former Northstars player Nick Medicis.
Ahead for most of the first half, the Northstars saw that get away when it managed just eight points in the third quarter. Suddenly, RFA led 43-36, and CNS, having lost to Corcoran in its previous game, was staring at first losing streak of the season.
But the Northstars didn't blink, instead turning things around with a 20-7 domination of the fourth quarter led by Zach Coleman, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Andy Falvey had 13 points as Dave Jackowski added eight points. Jerry Howard (23 points) and Eric Williams (16 points) kept RFA in it.