Now it was the Baldwinsville girls basketball team’s turn to undergo the full experience of facing the nation’s top player from right down the road.
It was the Bees’ singular misfortune to face defending state Class AA champion Cicero-North Syracuse on the night that Breanna Stewart and Brittany Paul were playing their last regular-season home game, and it turned into a showcase for both of them as B’ville lost, 79-37, to the Northstars.
Days earlier, Stewart, who is headed to the University of Connecticut next fall, was named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year for her work on two national teams in 2011 – on the same night where she surpassed 2,000 career points in a win over Auburn.
Yet it was Paul, the senior going to Lafayette University in Pennsylvania to play softball, that keyed the Northstars’ opening blitz, as it was 29-5 by the end of the first quarter and 56-11 by halftime.
Paul, before sitting down in the second half, set a career mark with 29 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Close behind her, Stewart managed 24 points.
Not until the second half did B’ville start to produce on a consistent basis, as Maggie Monnat had 16 points, eight of them from free throws, and Morgan Marshall hit three 3-pointers, too, to account for most of her 10 points.
With that out of the way, the Bees returned home Thursday night and quickly resumed its winning form, dismissing Central Square 56-35.
An active first half saw the Bees push the tempo and leave the Red Hawks, the margin growing to 38-21 by the time they hit the break. Monnat worked her total to 21 points, while Marshall twice connected from 3-point land and finished with 10 points. Gabi Jordan and Hope DeFazio each had six points.
At 12-4, the Bees will have a high seed when the Section III Class AA playoff seeds are announced on Feb. 12, regardless of what happens next week in games against Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius.