Dec 19, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A new wave of top performers, such as McKayla Roberts and Elizabeth Miles, is tasked with maintaining the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team’s hold over the local Class AA ranks.
Thus far, the task has proven a successful one, as the Northstars handed hot-starting Baldiwnsville its first defeat of the season Wednesday night, prevailing 61-37 in its CNY Counties League opener.
C-NS had not played for 10 days, since its second-place finish in the Dec. 7-8 Oneonta Tournament. And as head coach Eric Smith pointed out, it’s a young team, with two sophomores (Roberts and Samantha Tortora) and a junior (Emilee Norris) in the starting five and plenty of other underclassmen, including an eighth-grader (Amani Free), in the rotation.
As the Northstars went through extended practice time in the last month, B’ville had roared to a 5-0 start, mixing in strong inside play from the likes of Rachael Miller and Riley Carlucci with solid guard play from Emily Pascale and Hope DeFazio.
Right away, though, it was apparent that, while the Bees have closed a good portion of the gap with C-NS, it remains in pursuit of the Northstars – just like any other local AA challenger.
Never trailing, C-NS scored the game’s first seven points and had a 20-7 lead by the early part of the second quarter, and the reasons were twofold.
On the defensive end, the Northstars applied half-court pressure, never letting the Bees’ guards get comfortable. As a result, by the time B’ville did get open shots, inside and outside, it rushed them, leading to crucial misses. Pascale, in particular, was contained, managing just four points, a season low.
“I’m pleased with the way we played defensively,” said Smith.
Meanwhile, C-NS was steady and productive from the start on the offensive end, anchored by Roberts, whose deft dribbling skills led to lots of open looks – and conversions. Smith calls her a “heady player”, and her teammates fed off Roberts’ energy throughout the game.
That was especially true for Elizabeth Miles, as the senior forward produced 10 first-half points to lead both sides, keeping B’ville from making any sustained run, even though it only trailed 29-19 at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, with the Bees still one spurt away from making it tight, C-NS shut the door by going on a 13-2 run that extended to the final period, in large part due to terrific passing that created easy baskets.
“It’s hard to defend us if we move the ball quickly,” said Smith.
Miles finished with 16 points, while McKayla Roberts had 12 points. Her sister, Samantha Roberts, chimed in with seven points, matching Tortora as Norris got eight points. DeFazio, with 13 points, was the only B’ville player to score in double figures.
This weekend, C-NS goes to Queens, in New York City, to play at Francis Lewis High School against two top foes, St. Mary’s (Long Island) and Immaculate Heart Academy (N.J.)
After that, the Northstars have a 16-day layoff before resuming league action Jan. 7 at Fayetteville-Manlius. Smith said that long break will give his team all kinds of time to work on all sorts of things before it hits the heart of its schedule.
“We’re a young team that needs some practice,” he said.
Ironically, B’ville’s next game was a trip Friday to Liverpool – who arrived at that contest sporting a 3-0 record in the wake of last Tuesday’s 51-47 victory over Auburn.
Despite the close margin, it was fairly lopsided in the first half. Playing airtight defense and turning the Maroons’ mistakes into baskets on the other end, the Warriors steadily pulled away, grabbing a 26-13 lead by halftime.
Mostly, that margin held up through the third quarter, but in the closing minutes Auburn stormed back, eating into Liverpool’s lead behind 13 points from both Anna Giannone and Shaelynn Freeman.
The Warriors would hang on, getting another double-double from Rachael Windhausen, who managed 16 points and 14 rebounds. Nicole Carey offered a nice outside counterpoint, earning all of her 15 points from five successful 3-pointers, while Natalie Parkins managed 10 points. Donyai Starling contributed seven rebounds.