When the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team tore out to a 10-0 lead early in Saturday night's Section III Class AA semifinal against top seed Cicero-North Syracuse at LeMoyne College, it appeared that the quest for back-to-back sectional titles was right on course.
By night's end, though, the Brothers' train had derailed -- and a one-time pupil of Buddy Wleklinski had secured his biggest coaching win yet.
The Northstars fought back, led by halftime, and withstood the Brothers' fourth-quarter push to preavil, 53-47, and advance to its first sectional final since 1992, where it will play Utica Proctor Sunday for the AA championship.
Two decades ago, Wleklinski had, on his team, a three-sport star named John Haas, so skilled that he would earn a place in the CBA Athletic Hall of Fame.
Now Haas was coaching CNS, who carried a 17-2 mark into the sectional semifinals -- with CBA, the defending champions, standing in the way.
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. Four different Brothers -- Troy Bullock, Pete Corasaniti, Greg Thomson and Jameel Balenton -- scored during this run.
By the second quarter, CBA's lead was gone, and CNS junior forward Zach Coleman had a lot to do with it.
Coleman 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 this gaveCNS a 21-15 lead before a Pat Wiese 3-pointer cut the margin to 21-18 as they went to the break.