Dec 09, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
This is the part of the story where the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team, after soaking in continual championship glory, starts to make its way back to Earth, making Section III Class AA competition a bit closer.
And that part might end up true – except that the Northstars have no intention of surrendering any bit of its power, even as new players emerge in the spotlight.
Following the back-to-back state Class AA titles Breanna Stewart helped earn in 2011 and ’12, Stewart went on to earn an NCAA championship and Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors at Connecticut, and some sort of a letdown was expected.
But with the likes of Abbey Timpano, Sarah Bowles, Cara Gannett, Hannah Nichols and Kelly Corbin still on hand, C-NS made it back to the state final four again in 2013. Now they have graduated, too, so certainly the road will be tougher, right?
Yet here is where the long-term work done by head coach Eric Smith and his staff might start to pay off, as a new set of players inspired by their predecessors arrive on the scene, bound and determined to continue the Northstars’ championship run that, at the moment, stands at five straight sectional crowns.
C-NS began the 2013-14 season with three consecutive road games. It all started last Wednesday night, at Utica Proctor, where the new-look Northstars rolled past the Raiders 58-41.
And even that margin was a bit deceptive. C-NS, after a modest start, took over in the second quarter, outscoring Proctor 23-5 as its all-out pressure led to plenty of turnovers and easy baskets on the other end.
By the time the third quarter was done, the margin was 50-22, and the Northstars could rest its starters. McKayla Roberts set the pace with 17 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, while Beth Bonin also converted three times beyond the arc on her way to 12 points. Emilee Norris matched Bonin’s total of 12 points as Samantha Tortora contributed six points.
From there, C-NS went to the Drago Tournament at Oneonta High School and faced an immediate challenge when it took on long-time power Poughkeepsie Lourdes in Saturday’s opening round.
But the Northstars were up to it, beating the Warriors 52-46. Trailing 12-6 after one period, C-NS turned it around by doubling up Lourdes 16-8 in the second quarter to move out in front. Then the Northstars provided steady production throughout the last two periods, answering every Warriors run with one of its own.
Elizabeth Miles led the way, pouring in 15 points. Just behind her, Roberts earned 12 points, while Bonin also hit double figures with 10 points. Norris, with eight points, and Tortora, with six points, rounded out a well-balanced attack. Emily Ferreri led Lourdes with 17 points.
This put C-NS into Sunday’s final against host Oneonta, who reached the state Class B championship game a season ago. And the Yellowjackets would prove why it got that far, defeating the Northstars 55-46.
They battled on even terms throughout most of the first half, Oneonta relying heavily on the 3-point shooting of St. Bonvaenture-bound senior Mariah Ruff.
In all, Ruff connected five times beyond the arc, including a tie-breaker late in the half when the score was 21-21, C-NS having rallied from a 16-12 deficit at the end of the first period. The Northstars trailed the Yellowjackets 26-21 at the break.
Throughout the third quarter, C-NS chipped away at that deficit, closing the gap to 39-37. And it remained tight down the stretch, the Northstars still within three of Oneonta, 49-46, thanks to Miles’ basket with under a minute to play.
Ruff put it away, though, sinking all six of her free-throw attempts to finish with 25 points – and this coming exactly three weeks after Ruff helped Oneonta’s girls soccer team beat Marcellus for the state Class B title in that sport. Maria DiMartin and Brittany Herrick helped Ruff with 12 points apiece as Herrick, who is going to Siena next fall, grabbed 18 rebounds.
Norris, in defeat, led C-NS with 12 points. Bonin and Miles each finished with eight points, with Roberts (seven points) and Tortora (six points) close behind. Miles and Roberts both made the All-Tournament team.
The Northstars (2-1) are off until Dec. 18, when it takes on Baldwinsville, this prior to appearing at a tournament Dec. 21-22 at Francis Lewis High School in Queens.
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