For the second time in as many summers, Cicero-North Syracuse basketball star Breanna Stewart got selected to represent her country -- and the end result was a gold medal.
Stewart played with the USA Basketball Under-17 team as the inaugural FIBA Under-17 World Championship in Toulouse, France, and played a crucial role in the team's undefeated run to a championship, averaging 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The 12-player roster featured standouts from New York, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, Illinois and Virginia, all run by head coach Barbara Nelson, who is the coach at Wingate University near Charlotte, N.C.
Prior to the tournament, Team USA played in three exhibitions, routing Canada 93-47 and edging Spain 61-50, but losing 64-58 to Australia in between. From that point forward, the Americans were never in danger of getting caught.
In all, the tournament featured 12 nations, split into a pair of six-team divisions that would play five round-robin games. Four teams from each division would advance into the elimination rounds. The Americans would be the lone undefeated team in round-robin play.
On July 16, Team USA, playing in Group A, opened against
the hosts from France, with more than 2,000 people on hand, the largest crowd any of the visiting players, Stewart included, had ever faced.
It hardly mattered, though, as the Americans rolled to a 70-45 victory with a big second-half spurt as it enjoyed a 47-26 rebounding margin. Stewart led the way on both ends, earning a team-high 13 points to go with seven rebounds and four blocks.
Then Team USA really got on a roll, ripping Russia 82-38 on July 17 as Stewart, in just 13 minutes of court time, racked up 12 points and nine rebounds. A day later, it was a rematch with Canada and a 114-57 blowout that saw all 12 players get on the board, with Stewart contributing eight points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals.