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Girls Northstars head into new, challenging phase

Minus Stewart, C-NS goes 1-1 at Utica Proctor tourney

One unavoidable characteristic trait marks the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team in 2012-13 – the fact that Breanna Stewart is no longer there.

All Stewart did in a C-NS uniform was become the most accomplished player in the annals of Central New York high school girls hoops.

With Stewart setting the Section III record for points and doing everything else, from rebounds to shot blocks to free throws, just as well, the Northstars won back-to-back state Class AA championships, plus four consecutive sectional titles.

All of that is done now, Stewart having immediately assumed a high profile at Connecticut where she is averaging better than 15 points and six rebounds and hitting nearly 83 percent of her foul shots for the no. 2-ranked Huskies.

What is left for head coach Eric Smith, though, is enough to at least consider a fifth straight sectional crown. Three starters – Sarah Bowles, Abbey Timpano and Cara Gannett – are back, as are a full group of reserves ready to break out, too.

Together, they took their first steps into the post-Stewart era last weekend in the Proctor Tournament at Utica, with wildly varying results.

First, the Northstars had to face Gates-Chili, one of the strongest teams in Section V, and it proved a rough baptism as C-NS absorbed a 61-33 defeat to the Spartans in Saturday’s opening round.

Much of that margin was built in a first half where the Northstars, who routed so many sides in recent years, felt the other side of domination. Gates-Chili forced mistakes and did what it wanted on the offensive end, too, leading 23-9 after one period and 40-15 at halftime.

Though C-NS did settle down, it was far too late. Timpano led with 10 points, the only Northstar in double figures, while Bowles managed seven points and Kelly Corbin added five points.

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