SYRACUSE Going into Tuesday night's Section III Class AA semifinal, the consensus was that top seed and defending state champion Cicero-North Syracuse would handle its neighbors from Liverpool with relative ease and proceed to the Carrier Dome for the final against West Genesee.
What no one, perhaps even the Northstars, could imagine was how one-sided it would get.
C-NS nearly pulled off a first-half shutout, playing lights-out defense on the no. 5 seed Warriors and leading by a 39-2 margin at halftime on its way to a 63-19 victory at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.
Though more than a week had passed since the Northstars had lost 68-63 to New York City power Christ the King in its regular-season finale, it was still mad at how the defense had allowed so many opportunities.
Consequently, C-NS was going to make sure that never happened once the post-season started. And following an 89-25 destruction of Rome Free Academy in the quarterfinals, the Northstars now turned its attention upon a Liverpool side that had rallied past CBA 40-39 in overtime to get this far.
It didn't take long for the game to turn into a C-NS defensive clinic. Every time a Liverpool player tried to move the ball anywhere, the quartet of Abbey Timpano, Sarah Bowles, Cara Gannett and Brittany Paul was likely to steal it, leading to a fast break and a basket on the other end.
Warriors head coach Mike Olley said that Stewart’s presence alone takes away half of the court, allowing her teammates to swarm to the ball the moment it gets put into play and cause all those turnovers and easy points.
Breanna Stewart did most of the finishing on the offensive end, notching 11 points as C-NS blanked Liverpool 20-0 in that opening period. In the first four minutes of the second quarter, the margin grew to 35-0 as Stewart worked her total to 21 points.