SYRACUSE Introduced to the big stage of the Carrier Dome, the West Genesee boys basketball team could not quite make the experience a full one with a victory. The Wildcats fell, 61-52, to Cicero-North Syracuse in Sunday afternoon's Holiday Tip-Off Classic, and moved to 1-1 on the season.
This marks Fred Kent's second year as head coach of the Wildcats. His first campaign, in 2010-11, featured a torrid start that could not be sustained as WG finished at 13-7, falling to Henninger in the Section III Class AA quarterfinal.
Now the Wildcats looked to improve on that mark, but this time it would sustain an early defeat against a CNS side that has enjoyed the best regular-season mark in the local Class AA ranks in the last two years.
Playing for the first time in the unique Dome atmosphere, the Wildcats took a while to adjust. That led to a rough opening stretch, with just three field goals in the first quarter as the Northstars, who played in the inaugural Tip-off Classic a year ago, raced out to an 18-9 lead.
Then it got worse, thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Shakir Thomas and Mike Tricarico that spread the margin to 24-9 and made head coach Fred Kent use another time-out to try and stop things before it got out of hand.
It worked, as Matt Naton and Mike Henry hit on their own 3-pointers to push WG back in it, and it traded baskets the rest of the half, going into the break with a manageable 31-25 deficit.
Even as the pace quickened in the third quarter, WG kept up, pulling within one on a couple of occasions before the Northstars restored the margin and led, 48-43, with one quarter left.
Again the Wildcats pulled within one, 48-47, early in that final period, and had chances to take the lead. Again, CNS answered, going on a 10-2 run, capped by Sam Nassar's steal and lay-up with 2:45 left that made it 58-49, and WG would not catch up.