Feb 27, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
The Christian Brothers Academy and Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball teams entered the Section III Class AA semifinals Saturday at Liverpool High School with the same dream of reaching the championship round – but left with the same stark reality of a season brought to an end.
The no. 2 seed Brothers were in prime position against no. 2 seed Corcoran, only to see one big run by the Cougars make the difference in a 67-55 defeat.
Later that day, the no. 4 seed Hornets were putting a scare into top seed and defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse, but saw a second-half drought prove costly as it fell to the Northstars 55-41.
CBA went first, trying to advance past the semifinal round – something it couldn’t do in each of the previous two seasons, beaten by Corcoran in 2008 and CNS last year.
Like many of the Cougars’ opponents, the Brothers laid back in a 2-3 zone defense, determined to take away Corcoran’s inside advantage and force them into jump shots.
That worked for a while, for even though the Cougars did hit four 3-pointers in the first half, CBA out-rebounded them, closing each of the two quarters on strong runs.
Led by Ellen Voorheis, who had eight points, the Brothers only trailed 23-22 at halftime, this despite Leanne Ockenden managing just a single basket while shadowed by 5-11 Corcoran guard Ayana Bradley.
In the third quarter, the two sides traded the lead six times, but it was that sixth occasion that would prove CBA’s undoing.
Up 34-33 after a pair of Victoria Johnson free throws, the Brothers spent the rest of the period in full retreat. Corcoran, aided by timely rebounds off missed free throws, scored the last 10 points of the period and, overall, put together an 18-2 run that stretched into the fourth quarter.
Battling all the way to the end, CBA pulled back within six, 59-53, with two minutes to play, but would get no closer.
Ockenden, CBA’s all-time leading scorer, never caught fire, finishing with just 11 points. Voorheis led with 20 points, while Johnson and Katie Webster each had eight points.
All game long, Corcoran guard Coriesha Hickey damaged the Brothers, finishing with 22 points, five assists and three steals. Inside, Carrie Blunt had eight points and 11 rebounds, while Zephrah Pam also got 11 rebounds, to go with seven points.
Now it was F-M’s turn, trying to avenge defeats in its last two outings against CNS – one of them last year’s Class AA final.
Playing ferocious man-to-man defense, the Hornets held the Northstars without a field goal in the game’s first four minutes, yet only broke out to a 6-1 lead.
And once CNS’s 6-3 sophomore superstar, Breanna Stewart, started to catch fire, things turned around. Stewart had 11 points in the first quarter alone, putting F-M in an 18-14 deficit.
But the Hornets countered with an 11-0 spurt to start the second quarter, nine of the points coming from Ali Pliszka, fresh off her 26-point outing in the quarterfinal win over Oswego on Feb. 19.
CNS would respond and pull back in front, 32-29, by halftime, yet it appeared that F-M would hang in there by getting back-to-back baskets to open the third period.
Yet after Alexis Rios converted a lay-up, the Hornets would go more than nine minutes without a point. Even with solid defense, that still gave CNS time to pull ahead for good, helped in no small part by foul trouble that affected most of F-M’s starters.
All told, the Hornets had just three field goals in the game’s final 12-plus minutes. And Stewart continued to hurt them, finishing with 23 points and a series of blocks in the second half that halted any F-M attempts to reclaim its momentum.
Emily Trapani, in her last high-school outing, had 11 points, while Pliszka had a team-high 14 points and Rios earned eight points. For CNS, Brittany Paul had 15 points, seven of them in the fourth quarter.