Cicero Liverpool's boys basketball team is quickly finding out that it has all sorts of ways to hurt an opponent - as rival Cicero-North Syracuse would find out in Tuesday night's renewal of their long-simmering neighborhood rivalry.
From Caleb Taylor's first-half surge to Joe Kenney's well-timed outburst midway through the second half, the Warriors got what it needed to defeat the host Northstars 77-63.
A large, enthusiastic crowd ventured to the C-NS gymnasium, with reason for the enthusiasm. The Northstars had made it through a tough opening week 2-1, beating both CBA and Utica Proctor, while Liverpool had won both of its games in a tournament in Niagara Falls.
However, C-NS was still short-handed, since Connor Evans had not fully recovered from the concussion he suffered in the team's narrow loss to Nottingham on Dec. 5. Evans is expected to return next week.
Taking full advantage of this, Liverpool, with its big guard trio of Taylor and sophomores Tyler Sullivan and Jaydakis Scott, attacked from the outset, pushing the Warriors to a 19-7 edge late in the first quarter.
Liverpool maintained that edge the rest of the half, in large measure due to Taylor. With forwards Chris Allen (foul trouble) and Matt Hunter (injury) sitting out, Taylor continued to drive past C-NS defenders to the basket on a regular basis, leading to scoring opportunities.
By halftime, Taylor had 16 points, and the Warriors were still up by double digits, 38-26, but the Northstars were far from done.
Led by Troy McIntyre, who scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, the Northstars clawed back with an 18-7 outburst. When McIntyre buried a 3-pointer late in the period, Liverpool's lead was down to three, 48-45, and Taylor had gone cold.
Someone else had to step up - and it proved to be Kenney. The 5-foot-10 senior guard connected on a big 3-pointer just before the third period ended to stretch the margin to 53-46, but that was just the beginning.