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Girls basketball playoffs preview

Beaten up by the winter? Had it up to here with the morning routine of rise, shine, eat breakfast, spend 10 minutes digging out your car?

Yeah, here too. Fortunately there's a cure, even if the recent brief warm-up was a tease and not a full-time seductress. It's the Section III girls basketball playoffs, two weeks of constant drama where, every night and in every game, someone's season ends - and someone else inches closer to a championship.

In all, 60 teams made their way into the five sectional tournaments. And a first glance of the brackets reveals that, among the large schools, it's clear to see who should win it all - but the small schools have a larger range of possibilities.

For the last two years, Breanna Stewart and Cicero-North Syracuse have rejected, literally and figuratively, every challenger as it occupied the Class AA throne, though Corcoran came awfully close in 2010. Now the UConn-bound (in 2012, anyway) Stewart and the Northstars hold the top seed again in AA, with every expectation that a three-peat is inevitable.

Consider that Liverpool, the no. 4 seed, just lost to CNS by 40, and CBA, the no. 5 seed is not quite the threat it was when Leanne Ockenden was draining 3-pointers in recent campaigns. Also consider that Corcoran, who gained the no. 2 seed after a solid 14-4 campaign, suffered its own recent beatdown (58-29) at the Northstars' expense, so how could that turn around should the sides meet again in the finals?

Maybe the only answer for CNS lies out east, in no. 3 seed Utica Proctor. Led by Pitt-bound Bri Kiesel, the Raiders have won 13 in a row and, back in December at the Lady Raider Invitational, pushed the Northstars until the fourth quarter before CNS got away, 61-45. Get to the finals - which will be again at Utica Auditorium - and maybe some hometown magic can stop the Stewart machine. But that's still a longshot.

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