Feb 19, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In their own unique ways, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls and boys basketball teams will both head to Onondaga Community College Saturday with clear goals in mind when they enter the Section III Class AA semifinals.
For the girls Northstars, who drubbed Fayetteville-Manlius 60-34 in Tuesday night’s AA quarterfinal, it will be payback in mind as it takes on Nottingham, the same team that beat C-NS 56-44 on Feb. 11, causing the shuffle in playoff seeding that ultimately brings these sides back together.
Meanwhile, the boys Northstars, who have the no. 4 seed in its Class AA sectional bracket, earned a shot at toppling top seed F-M after taking over in the second half to oust no. 5 seed West Genesee 68-58, getting its own revenge in the process.
With a first-round bye, the C-NS girls, who had the no. 3 seed, had a week to get over the Nottingham loss, and returned to the court with a whole lot of purpose, determined not to let its five-year sectional title reign end at the expense of F-M, the no. 6 seed, who it had already beaten twice during the regular season.
The Northstars didn’t take the lead for good until the second quarter despite nine early points from McKayla Roberts, but then its defense, mixing in all kinds of looks, began to take a toll on the Hornets.
After D’Jhai Patterson-Ricks sank a pair of free throws with 5:18 left in the half to cut C-NS’s lead to 18-16, F-M did not score again the rest of the half, thwarted by the Northstars’ zone defense as long-range shots flew well off target.
Meanwhile, C-NS’s attack diversified. Five different players scored during a 10-0 run that stretched the margin to double digits, and the spurt grew to 20-3 as Elizabeth Miles capped it off with a pair of baskets that made it 38-19 midway through the third quarter.
F-M could not find a consistent response, and the Northstars pulled away as Miles led with 12 points, Beth Bonin contributed 10 points and Emilee Norris added eight points. Late in the third period, Samantha Tortora, who had nine points, suffered an ankle injury and left the game, not to return.
Once that was done, and once the large crowd returned to the C-NS gym after a fire alarm briefly cleared the building, it was time for the boys Northstars to enter the playoff fray. And it had plenty of motivation, since West Genesee had beaten them 64-46 just two weeks earlier in Camillus.
More comfortable on its home court, C-NS moved out in front for good early in the second quarter, pushed there by Connor Evans and his 11 first-half points. At one point, the margin got to six, but Shane Temara’s 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the gap to 36-33 at halftime.
After WG closed the gap to one 40-39, early in the third period, the Northstars responded with a 9-0 run, launched by Brian DeMonte’s 3-pointer, and were threatening to get away before Troy Temara’s 3-pointer at the end of the period made it 51-44.
Again, the Wildcats, sparked by that timely basket, moved closer, cutting the lead to 53-50 with mroe than five minutes to play. Again, C-NS had an answer, with DeMonte’s steal and lay-up, followed by a big 3-pointer and a key rebound basket from Ronnie Williams, got it back to 60-53.
Evans, who finished with 21 points, hit six late free throws to seal the victory, but just as important was the way the Northstars’ bench produced. Nick Antonello gave C-NS a second option in the paint as he poured in 12 points, while Devin Turrell contributed 10 points, including six successful free throws.
And this leads C-NS to the semifinal against F-M, the 17-2 top seed, a team it put a scare into back on Jan. 7 in a 58-51 defeat. The stakes here are a ticket to the Carrier Dome for the March 1 sectional final against Utica Proctor or Henninger.
That game will tip off at 8:30 at SRC Arena, while the C-NS girls battle with Nottingham starts at 2:45 at OCC’s adjacent Allyn Hall. The winner of that semifinal meets West Genesee or Rome Free Academy Feb. 28 at the Dome for the sectional championship.