Mar 19, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Only one result would bring satisfaction to the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team in 2010-11 – namely, the program’s first-ever New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship.
And on a glorious Saturday night at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, the Northstars climbed to that summit in its usual emphatic style, unleashing every aspect of its total game in a 75-54 victory over Section V champion Gates-Chili in the AA championship game.
Junior center Breanna Stewart, the state tournament MVP, delivered another dominant performance. The Universty of Connecticut-bound junior, named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year a week earlier, earned 29 points and 16 rebounds, using her vast array of skills to frustrate the Spartans on both ends of the floor.
Kelsey Mattice, the senior point guard going to Maine next fall, added 13 points, while Sarah Bowles, with 11 points, and Abbey Timpano, with 10 points, also hit double figures. Mattice and Bowles joined Stewart on the All-Tournament team.
In all, CNS has played six post-season games – and has won by double figures in every one of them. Like all the others, the state final featured the Northstars inevitably imposing its collective will on Gates-Chili, the Rochester-area school also was seeking its first state championship.
Facing an 8-7 deficit to the Spartans early in a fast-paced first quarter, CNS seized the lead for good by going on a 12-0 run. What made it so exceptional was that Breanna Stewart only had the last two points in that spurt.
Bowles kicked it off with a 3-pointer, then added another basket in the run as Timpano and Mattice also converted Gates-Chili turnovers into field goals on the other end. It all helped the Northstars lead 19-12 after one period.
The Spartans hung in there the rest of the half, but with the score 27-21 just before halftime, CNS began the surge that put a state championship away.
It began with Cara Gannett hitting a basket and Stewart converting to expand the Northstars’ edge to 31-21 by halftime. With that momentum, CNS then got the first nine points of the third period – a 3-pointer from Mattice, then three consecutive baskets from Timpano.
As if that wasn’t enough, Stewart began to have her way inside, using a series of nifty post moves, plus her proven power, to get 19 second-half points as CNS led by as much as 25 in the fourth quarter before easing up. For the game, the Northstars shot 61 percent from the field.
With 1:54 left and the championship settled, head coach Eric Smith brought out all the starters – Stewart, Mattice, Bowles, Timpano and Brittany Paul – to a standing ovation from the CNS fans that had traveled to Troy.
Moments later, senior Danielle Jimenez provided an exclamation point with a 3-pointer that drew more loud cheers, and as the buzzer sounded the team piled on each other in jubliation, then quickly got up to receive their medals and the state championship plaque – the first for any Section III team since South Jefferson (Class B) in 2006.
And still the story isn’t over. CNS (22-2) is going to Albany’s Times Union Center to play in the State Federation Championships. The Northstars meet Murry Bergrtraum, the New York City Public School Athletic League champions, next Saturday at 2 p.m., with the winner to advance to Sunday’s noon final against Nazareth, the Catholic High School Athletic Association representative.
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