Dec 07, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
To say that the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team’s 2013-14 regular-season schedule was front-loaded might prove more than a slight understatement.
Before it even hits the middle of December, the Northstars will have played five games against, in order, Christian Brothers Academy, Nottingham, Utica Proctor, Liverpool and Henninger, all in a span of just 11 days.
The season began with a lot of new faces, none of them as important as junior point guard Connor Evans, a transfer from Bishop Grimes who gave head coach John Haas a proven floor leader to complement the likes of Brian DeMonte and Ronnie Williams.
All of this started last Tuesday night, against CBA, where Evans, with timely big plays, turned the game in his new team’s favor and sparked a late surge as the Northstars beat the Brothers 67-47.
Evans had six points as the Northstars shook off a cold start to grab an early 11-4 lead. But led by Charlie Russo and Dylan Lambert, CBA countered with an 18-4 spurt that carried deep into the second quarter.
Then Evans ended that string with a rare four-point play (made 3-pointer, plus foul shot) late in the half that helped the Northstars close within two, 27-25, by halftime.
They went back and forth in the third quarter before Evans and DeMonte hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the period to put C-NS ahead for good. Though it only trailed 45-41 going to the final period, the Brothers managed just two field goals the rest of the way, and the Northstars got clear.
Other than Russo, who finished with 23 points but struggled with late foul trouble, and Lambert, who got 14 points, no other CBA player had more than two field goals.
By contrast Evans led the Northstars with 24 points and got support from DeMonte, who had 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and Williams, who added 12 points.
Nottingham showed up on Thursday night, and this one went right to the wire before a 3-point shot at the wire by Henry Sullivan allowed the Bulldogs to edge the Northstars 68-65.
However, the big story came in the second quarter. Already with 16 points on the night, Evans drove hard to the basket and fell to the floor hard, sustaining a concussion. He left the game, and his return remains unknown.
Without him, C-NS, who led 23-13 after one period, saw its lead cut to 30-29 by halftime. From there, it stayed close the rest of the way, the Northstars leading large portions of the game, but unable to put away the Bulldogs, leading to a wild final sequence that culminated with Sullivan’s decisive long-range jumper.
DeMonte, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, led C-NS with 18 points. Troy McIntyre stepped up for nine points as Williams managed seven points and David Verret got six points. For Nottingham, Sullivan and Marcus McDonald each had 15 points, with Trenell Reid adding 13 points.
Less than 24 hours later, C-NS made the trip to Henninger High School to play against Utica Proctor (whom it lost to, 43-41, in last February’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal) in the opening game of the annual Peppino’s Invitational.
Showing grit and determination, the short-handed Northstars beat the Raiders 53-48, leading the entire game, but not feeling safe until McIntyre saved matters in the waning seconds.
No matter what it did, C-NS could not get away from Proctor, who trailed by as much as 10 in the first half before closing the gap to 26-20 at the break.
Then C-NS held the Raiders without a point for the first five minutes of the third quarter and doubled its margin to 32-20, but again Proctor answered, going on a 10-1 run late in that period, and setting up a tense homestretch.
The Raiders got within one, 46-45, before DeMonte’s 3-pointer with 1:52 left stretched the margin to four – only to have Clifton Tracey drain a three of his own seconds later to make it 49-48.
Then, after an exchange of turnovers, the Raiders had the ball, with a chance to go in front, only to see J’Von Evans’ lay-up slide off the rim. Moments later, McIntyre stepped in front of a pass and stole it, going all the way to the other end to convert with 16 seconds left.
Still, Proctor had a chance to tie it, only to see Tracey, with an open 3-point look, put it off the rim. McIntyre rebounded and, with two seconds left, sank both free throws to clinch it.
DeMonte, named the game’s MVP, had 17 points, with McIntyre and Williams both getting 12 points and David Verret adding six points. Tracey, Evans and Tyvon Reed led Proctor with nine points apiece.