Eighteen long years since it last got this far, the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team is, finally, back on the brink of a Section III championship.
Showing poise, maturity and confidence at many different points, the no. 1 seed Northstars dethroned defending champion Christian Brothers Academy 53-47 in Saturday night's Class AA semifinal at LeMoyne College.
This sends CNS (18-2) into Sunday's final at Utica Memorial Auditorium at 1:45 against no. 2 seed Utica Proctor, who rallied past Henninger 60-53 in the other semifinal. The Northstars are after its first-ever sectional title.
"We've worked a long time to get here, and we mean business," junior forward Zach Coleman said.
And the win over CBA had to be particularly satisfying to head coach John Haas - a 1989 CBA graduate who learned his craft under the Brothers' long-time coach, Buddy Wleklinski, who was his counterpart on the sidelines this night.
The game had a constant theme. CNS would be in trouble many different times - and each time, it answered with strong play that eventually led to victory.
It took more than five minutes for the Northstars to even get on the board, as shot after shot rolled off the rim and CBA dominated the boards on its way to a 10-0 lead.
By the second quarter, that deficit was gone, and Coleman had a lot to do with it.
The junior forward would, in a span of barely three minutes, hit two free throws, convert on a lay-up, connect on a 3-pointer and add one more basket, all giving CNS a 21-15 lead before a Pat Wiese 3-pointer cut the margin to 21-18 as they went to the break.
After a quiet first half with just one field goal, Andy Falvey began to show up in the third period, the senior forward getting six points to counter all of CBA's charges as the Northstars stayed out in front, 33-30.