ALBANY After losing in the Class AA semifinal round of the New York State Federation Tournament last season, the Cicero North-Syracuse girls basketball team set just one goal for this season.
That goal was to make it into the championship game this year.
C-NS achieved that goal with a convincing 80-55 victory over Catholic High School Athletic Association champion Nazareth from New York City in Saturday's semifinal at the Times Union Center.
The Northstars will get a chance at avenging last season's defeat to Murry Bergtraum from the Public School Athletic League when the two teams meet for the championship Sunday at noon. The Blazers received the bye into the final.
"Three-hundred and sixty-three days ago, we left here with the goal of taking it one game further this season," said C-NS coach Eric Smith. "We've done that, and now hopefully playing the team that knocked us off last season will give us a little extra motive in the championship game."
The Northstars may have had their best performance in out-shooting, out-defending and out-running the Kingsmen. Breanna Stewart led the charge with a tournament-record 42 points, including 15 field goals.
"Points don't matter to me at all," said the UConn-bound Stewart. "Obviously you need to score points to win, but it doesn't matter to me who scores them."
When the Nazareth defense collapsed on Stewart, she calmly kicked the ball out. Her biggest recipient of the day was Brittany Paul, who finished with 20 points including five three-pointers.
"We had a good shoot-around this morning," said Paul. "We knew we would have to shoot the ball well to win, and we did."
Stewart scored the first points of the game on two free throws, and C-NS never trailed from there. Nazareth tied the game once in the first quarter before Paul hit a shot to put the Northstars ahead again. Stewart ended the period with a three-quarters-of-the-court shot that fell through the net as the buzzer sounded.