Girls basketball: "13" is a lucky number for Stewart

Senior forward contributes at both ends in Northstars' state title victory

— It wasn't Breanna Stewart's best offensive night of the season, but it was one of her most complete games.

The senior forward scored 13 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked 13 shots to help Cicero-North Syracuse beat Penfield 62-48 in Saturday's Class AA state championship game at Hudson Valley Community College.

"When I struggle on offense, I know I can always play great defense," said Stewart, the state tournament's most valuable player. "I couldn't make anything, but that was fine because everybody else was (scoring). I pride myself on defense and just letting the offense come."

Brittany Paul stepped up for the Northstars when Stewart couldn't score. Paul drained four of her five three-point shot attempts on her way to a 23-point night.

"It was a big game, and I told myself I gotta play big," Paul said. "They (Penfield) were a quick team, and we had to think on our feet. When I was open, I shot. When my team needed me, I was able to step up."

A quick start helped C-NS gain an advantage over Penfield, the Section V champions. The Northstars scored the first 14 points before the Eagles got on the scoreboard with 1:342 left in the first quarter. However, that basket -- a three-pointer by Shannon Nesselbush -- sparked an 11-0 Penfield run that trimmed C-NS's lead to 14-11.

Stewart didn't score a point in the first quarter, but she got herself and C-NS back on track in the second quarter when she opened the period with a basket. Stewart added five more points to help the Northstars build a 34-27 halftime lead.

Penfield stuck around for a while in the second half before C-NS pulled away with a 15-6 run. The lead grew to 62-39 in the fourth quarter before the Northstars coasted to their second consecutive state championship.

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