Were it not for a rough finish against Utica Proctor on Dec. 23, the Henninger boys basketball team might have made it through its tough early-season gauntlet without a blemish.
As it is, though, the Black Knights' 5-1 mark is quite impressive, a run capped off Tuesday night when it beat defending Section III Class AA champion Cicero-North Syracuse 59-55.
So far, Henninger has defeated CBA, Fairport and CNS, plus won its fifth consecutive Mayor's Roundball Classic with double-digit conquests of Corcoran and Fowler. And each time, it seems like a different player steps up and has a big night.
Kavon Delee did the honors against the Northstars. Delee had a season-high 21 points as he helped Henninger weather a rough opening stretch, then led the Black Knights' second-half comeback and, for good measure, hit three key free throws in the final 11 seconds to put the game away.
In the game's first three minutes, two starters, Tevin Chisholm and Marquies Young, both picked up two fouls. They sat most of the rest of the first half, yet Delee's eight points helped Henninger hang in there, keeping CNS (who had beaten Utica Proctor on this same Joe Mazella Court Dec. 17 in the Peppino's Invitational) from expanding upon its lead.
Down 29-23 early in the third quarter, Henninger turned it around with a 12-2 run, highlighted by Markel Stith's dunk on a fast break. Not only was Henninger able to quicken the game's tempo, it also clamped down on defense, dominating on the boards and holding Northstars standout Zach Coleman to 16 points, just nine in the last three periods.
Henninger kept getting away, eventually leading 53-42 with 2:15 to play - but CNS wouldn't quit. Building full-court pressure, and getting key baskets from Elliott Boyce (who finished with 12 points) and Josh Williams, the Northstars went on an 11-3 run, forcing Delee into making those late foul shots.
Helping out Delee, Tevin Chisholm got 10 of his 12 points in the second half, while Tommie Spinner had eight of his 10 points after the break and Stith finished with 11 points.
Now the schedule eases up a bit, even as Henninger starts hitting the road more often. Trips to Fayetteville-Manlius, Gates-Chili and Central Square follow Friday's home game against Oswego, all leading to a Jan. 21 showdown with West Genesee. The Wildcats have roared out to a 7-0 start.