Cicero-North Syracuse senior Breanna Stewart (30) jumps to block a shot from West Genesee’s Kerri Taylor (14) in last Friday’s Class AA final at the Carrier Dome. The Connecticut-bound Stewart also had 30 points as the Northstars beat the Wildcats 69-31 for its fourth consecutive sectional title.
Photo by Herm Card.
continued From there, it didn't take long for the duel to turn into another clinical exhibition of all-around play from the defending state AA champions.
Again, after every made basket and free throw, the Northstars unleashed its full-court pressure, contesting every inch and forcing WG into turnovers. Even when the Wildcats got shots, Stewart would block them, or on three occasions the 30-second shot clock would run out.
Abbey Timpano hit on back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the first quarter to key a 14-0 spurt. Not until the last minute of the period did the Wildcats get a field goal, which made it 14-3.
Held without a field goal in that first quarter, Stewart quickly made up for it by getting 14 of her team's first 16 points in the second period on everything from rebound baskets to a 3-pointer from the top of the key. She also made all six of her free-throw attempts in the half.
It wasn't a one-player effort, either. Timpano and Bowles both had eight points in the half. But Stewart's second 3-pointer, which gave her 17 for the period and 21 points overall, and a deft pass to Elizabeth Miles for an open layup just before the horn, made it 41-13 at the break.
To its credit, WG's effort never wavered, as it stayed closer to the Northstars for a longer period than other local opponents.
"My kids battled," said Wildcat head coach Dan Hallinan. "We did not play scared and we played hard."
Still, the Northstars proved too tough, as Stewart left the game early in the fourth quarter, having garnered tournament MVP honors. Bowles (who had 13 points) and Timpano (who got eight points) joined Stewart on the All-Tournament team, as did WG's Emily Tripodi.
C-NS will face Section II champion Colonie next Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, and with another win will return to that same arena for the March 16-17 state final four, where the Northstars won the state title a year ago.
Given all the tough foes it has faced in tournaments from Massachusetts from Arizona, said C-NS head coach Eric Smith, it won't be fazed by the pressure as the state tournament goes along.
"We don't get caught up in the environment," said Smith. "We relish it and look forward to it."
Stewart agreed. "You don't want to end (your high school career) with a loss," she said. "Practices will only get us better. We're not done yet."