Any time the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team gathers with Utica Proctor, it tends not to get decided until the final horn sounds.
Such was the case again in Tuesday’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal, where the no. 5 seed Northstars were in position for a victory on the road, only to have the no. 4 seed Raiders snatch it away and prevail 43-41.
As regulation time wound down, C-NS clung to a 41-40 lead, having put together a superb defensive effort to try and avenge a defeat to Proctor just two weeks earlier.
But with 16 seconds left, the Raiders’ Clifton Tracy, who had missed all five of his previous 3-point attempts, found the net for his only points of the night, and the Northstars could not answer, despite a chance to tie or win it.
It was just the latest exciting chapter in a series full of those close finishes, most notably the 2010 Section III Class AA final at Utica Memorial Auditorium that the Northstars won on Anthony DelCoro’s banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Neither side was as formidable now, but C-NS had payback in mind after Proctor beat them 64-62 on the Northstars’ home court Feb. 5.
An active first quarter saw the Raiders go in front 16-12. Over the course of the next two periods, though, the Northstars shored up its defense and took away whatever Proctor tried, only giving up four points in the second quarter.
Yet C-NS had its own problems against Proctor’s man-to-man pressure, and though it tied the game 20-20 by halftime and continued to restrict the Raiders’ advances, it still trailed, 30-29, going to the fourth quarter.
Here, it would go back and forth. Xavier Brown (13 points), Mike Lumia (11 points) and Brian DeMonte (nine points) each hit crucial baskets, Proctor answering enough to stay within range as Naronn Harvey (15 points), Kerion Barton (14 points) and J’Von Evans (11 points) hit double figures.
Mike Tricarico struggled on this night, getting just six points, and Tracy did even less, until the very end, where his big shot left C-NS with a final mark of 10-9 for the season.