When the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team played in national tournaments in locales as far away as Arizona in recent seasons, the presence of Breanna Stewart had a lot to do with those invitations.
Now, though, with Stewart gone, the Northstars were still invited to join 15 other elite national programs at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., for the National Title IX Holiday Invitational, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the landmark legislation that mandated gender equity in interscholastic sports.
Play got underway on Thursday, with C-NS, part of the eight-team Platinum Division (the other eight played in the Gold Division), taking on a local program, H.D. Woodson. With a strong start to both halves, the Northstars made its way to a 60-49 victory.
C-NS’s vaunted defensive pressure would hold Woodson to seven points in the first quarter. Despite this, the Northstars only had a 24-20 halftime lead, but got more comfortable after baskets started falling in the third period.
During that stretch, C-NS outscored Woodson 21-14, gaining a double-digit edge, and it withstood all of Woodson’s late comeback attempts.
Sarah Bowles, with 16 points, led the Northstars’ attack, but Abbey Timpano was close behind as she got 14 points. Emilee Norris had nine points, seven of them from successful free throws, while Hannah Nichols earned half of her eight points at the foul line. McKayla Roberts contributed six points.
In the Platinum Division semifinals, C-NS faced Good Counsel, also from Maryland, who beat Southwest DeKalb (Ga.) 71-63 in its first-round game. Here, the Northstars could not recover from a poor start, taking a 62-44 defeat to the Falcons.
To this point in the season, no one had consistently solved the C-NS defensive pressure – but Good Counsel did so, especially in a 23-9 first-quarter attack. The shots kept falling for the Falcons in the second quarter as C-NS’s deficit grew to 41-20.