C-NS girls head talented Federation lineup
ALBANY Five basketball teams that used Section II as a postseason steppingstone, including nationally ranked Cicero-North Syracuse, will seek season-ending titles this weekend in the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions.
The tournament that includes participants from four associations will be staged at the Times Union Center for the second year in a row today, Saturday and Sunday after a three-decade run at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s six teams include defending Class AA boys’ champion Mount Vernon and Class AA girls’ representative Cicero-North Syracuse, which is ranked No. 5 in the USA Today Super 25 and led by Naismith Award winner Breanna Stewart.
The 6-foot-4, Connecticut-bound Stewart had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 13 blocks when the Northstars (21-3) beat Penfield, 62-48, for the NYSPHSAA flag last weekend. Stewart piled up 42 points and 23 rebounds in a 79-51 semifinal win over Ossining the day before, and had 31 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a 58-39 regional win over Colonie.
One of the Federation’s featured games will be Cicero-North Syracuse’s 2 p.m. semifinal Saturday against defending Class AA champion Nazareth (Catholic High School Athletic Association, 18-3), which is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Super 25. The winner gets Murry Bergtraum (Public School Athletic League, 18-7) in Sunday’s final at noon.
Bergtraum beat C-NS in the 2011 semifinals before losing to Nazareth, and was denied its sixth Federation crown since 2002.
Nazareth has overcome adversity to reach the tournament. The Kingsmen lost 38-year-old coach Robert Paschall to a heart attack in January, and shortly after, it was announced that their Brooklyn school is closing at the end of the academic year.
The girls’ Class A trio includes Rochester East (21-3), which halted Averill Park’s bid for a second NYSPHSAA title in three years with a 43-35 triumph. Averill Park not only won the NYSPHSAA banner in 2010, but also the Federation crown. Colonie was Section II’s last Federation champion before that, in 2001 (Class A).
Long Island Lutheran (Association of Independent Schools) will have two teams in action this weekend, with its defending Class B girls’ champions (17-5) and its reigning Class A boys’ champions (21-6). The LI Lutheran boys advanced with a 65-40 AIS title-game win over Albany Academy.
No school had ever had two Federation winners in the same year before Christ the King accomplished that in 2010. LI Lutheran and Nazareth both have an opportunity to duplicate the feat as the Nazareth boys (21-6) will also play in the Class B group that includes four-time defending champ Collegiate (AIS, 25-3) and Bishop Ludden (23-2).
Bishop Ludden edged Watervliet, 43-42, for the NYSPHSAA Class B banner. Watervliet was looking to get back to the Federation for the first time since 1991, when the Cannoneers became Section II’s only boys champion.
Mount Vernon (23-2) won its fifth Federation title last year and earned an opportunity to add on by beating Christian Brothers Academy, 68-42, and Aquinas, 61-57, last weekend. Isaiah Cousins had a big game against Aquinas with 22 points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists to help Mount Vernon win its 10th NYSPHSAA title.