ALBANY – Ed Grezinsky devised a plan to stop the best player in the country. He just didn’t account for his team to have its worst offensive performance of the year as Murry Bergtraum fell to Cicero-North Syracuse, 60-28, in the New York State Federation Class AA final Sunday afternoon at the Times Union Center.
“We just had no offense today,” Grezinsky said. “We couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Breanna Stewart did, scoring a game-high 22 points with 15 rebounds and seven blocks to earn MVP honors. The 6-foot-4 UConn-bound senior wing broke the Federation record for total points (64) and rebounds (38) to help lead the Northstars to their first-ever Federation title.
“I guess it’s a great accomplishment, breaking records and stuff like that, but in the end what we wanted was to end on a win and that’s the best accomplishment,” Stewart said.
A day after shooting 15-of-20 en route to 42 points in a semifinal win against Nazareth, Stewart was limited to 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Grezinsky said she, along with former Christ the King standout Tina Charles, are the best players he’s ever coached against.
“She’s very poised, she can do everything,” Grezinsky said. “She can shoot the ball, she’s got a tremendous inside game, she’s a great passer, she handles the ball like a guard and she sees the floor very well.”
Cicero-North Syracuse (23-3) was in full control from the opening tip, which shockingly Stewart lost, and had a 35-16 halftime lead. Still, Stewart knew there was no time to be complacent. Last year in the semifinals, the Northstars led at the half, but fell to the Lady Blazers.
“We knew what it felt like last year when we were up at the half and Murry Bergtraum came back and we lost,” Stewart said. “That was in the back of the returners minds. We don’t want that to happen again. We wanted to come out strong and be on top from the start.”
The Northstars made sure of that with a commanding 15-3 third quarter and had a 50-19 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
Sarah Bowles had 14 points and six rebounds and Brittany Paul added 13 points for Cicero-North Syracuse, which is the first non-New York City team to win the Federation Class AA title since Colonie in 2001.
Shequana Harris had 15 points and seven rebounds for Bergtraum (18-8), which shot 13.1 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from 3-point range.
“I’m a little upset, our performance was not good,” Harris said. “We could have played a lot better. We limited them to 60 points, we should have been closer than that.”
Despite the ending, the season was a success for a Bergtraum team that had to endure the tragic death of Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy in September and started the season with consecutive losses.
“I’m proud of team, it was a great season,” Harris said. “We made it back to the city championship and we’ve got the 14th straight title. A lot of people doubted us this year because of all we’ve been through and the loss of our teammate, but we overcame everything and we made it back up here. I’m just proud of my team.”
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