Though it still looms over local opponents, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team knew that it wouldn’t be the case when it went to Francis Lewis High School in Queens for a pair of weekend tests before the holiday break.
In the first of those games, the Northstars faced St. Mary’s, from Long Island, and looked to be in control before a rough fourth quarter led to a 51-42 defeat.
Strong at the start, C-NS bolted out to a 14-6 lead, and even though St. Mary’s settled down for the rest of the half, the Northstars still carried a 22-16 advantage to the break.
As the pace picked up in the third quarter, C-NS hung on, and still was in front 35-33 going to the fourth quarter, only to get run over down the stretch by St. Mary’s.
And it didn’t help that the Northstars never got comfortable at the free-throw line, sinking just four of 15, and missing all five of its attempts in the final period.
Samantha Roberts paced C-NS with 10 points. McKayla Roberts, with nine points, was close behind as Elizabeth Miles managed six points.
A day later, C-NS met Immaculate Heart Academy, from New Jersey, knowing that it would be its last game action until a Jan. 7 trip to Fayetteville-Manlius. This time around, the Northstars were able to finish well, and it led to a 49-47 victory.
Just like the St. Mary's game, C-NS led by eight points after the first quarter, bolting to a 15-7 lead. And it maintained that margin until the third quarter, when Immaculate Heart used its own 14-6 push to pull back even.
Throughout the final minutes, the two sides exchanged baskets, but C-NS pulled it out, led by Samantha Tortora, who produced a season-high 15 points, including a crucial late free throw.