SYRACUSE A difficult task - trying to upend the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team from its long-held Section III Class AA throne - is rendered impossible when the shots don't fall.
West Genesee found this out in Friday night's AA semifinal at Le Moyne College, picking a bad time to go cold as the top-seeded Northstars, led on both ends by seniors Abbey Timpano and Sarah Bowles, pulled away for a 60-28 victory.
On the offensive end, Timpano poured in 22 points, while Bowles earned 16 points. Defensively, they formed the focal points of a 'triangle-and-two' set that shut down WG's top two players, Melissa Fumano and Vicki Graveline, throughout the night.
"They're our two leaders," said C-NS head coach Eric Smith. "And they love these big games."
This, of course, was WG's big chance to even things up after Breanna Stewart-led C-NS smashed them 69-33 in last March's Class AA final in the Dome.
What the Wildcats learned, in pushing the post-Stewart Northstars to the fourth quarter in a 66-50 defeat on Jan. 29, was that it could hang around with the two-time defending state champions. Now WG just wanted to stay in it until the end, and see what happened from there.
C-NS, of course, had no intention of letting it reach that point. And it started to take over late in the first quarter with a 7-0 run in a span of less than 30 seconds.
Hannah Nichols, who burned WG for 24 points in that January encounter, launched the run, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner. Following a foul, Timpano hit a driving lay-up, and full-court pressure led to a quick turnover and basket from Bowles, making it 13-3 in a hurry.
All told, C-NS closed the period with a 12-1 spurt, and the Wildcats found itself down 18-4. Worse yet, when it did get shots and evaded the constant Northstars pressure, it could not make either close-up shots or free throws, going two-for-nine from the foul line in the first half.