Liverpool boys take down C-NS, 66-59
1/10/2017 6:06 AM

Once more, the Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball teams gathered last Friday night, renewing their neighborhood conflict with the Northstars trying to hand the Warriors its first CNY Counties League defeat of the season.  And though the Northstars had the home-court advantage, it was the Warriors coming out on top, maintaining its share of first place with West Genesee in the CNY Counties League by taking an early advantage and withstanding some mid-game lulls to prevail by a score of 66-59.  For this occasion, the boys and girls varsity games were paired together as part of the “Griff Out” event, which raised money for the Griffin’s Guardians charity and the fight against pediatric cancer. It included a photo booth and raffles featuring items donated by, among others, Breanna Stewart.  The boys game was yet another chance for C-NS to knock off someone on its home court, having already beaten CBA and Fayetteville-Manlius. But Liverpool was determined to avoid that fate as it steered toward Tuesday’s first-place league showdown with West Gensee.  Throughout a steady first half, the Warriors were in front, and took a 33-24 lead to the break. C-NS tried to counter, holding Liverpool to nine points in the third quarter, but it couldn’t catch up.  Part of the reason Liverpool held on was that it spread its production around. Charles Pride had only 10 points, and Naz Johnson led with 14 points, but four others – Peter Cerrone, Charles Meile, Cooper Chaffee and Jonah Harder – managed eight points apiece as Noah Isaakainen added six points.  Unable to match that sort of depth, the Northstars still had Omar Mere produce 14 points, four steals and four rebounds, with Alex Gray adding 10 points and six rebounds. Lukas Merluzzi got eight points, three rebounds and three assists as Jaysaun Gunn had seven points, Ryan Houser six points and Justin Kegebein five points.  Both sides were coming off impressive wins last Tuesday night, with Liverpool going to Henninger and bashing the Black Knights 65-38 while C-NS continued its roller-coaster ride by roaring past Fayetteville-Manlius 70-51.  C-NS was in the midst of a four-game skid, including back-to-back defeats at the Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic Dec. 29-30. A first-round loss to Westhill was followed by a 63-55 defeat to host Christian Brothers Academy, who avenged its Dec. 16 loss to the Northstars by building a big early lead and withstanding a late C-NS rally.  No Northstars player scored in double figures in the CBA rematch, though Gunn, Kegebein and Kyle Cody got close with nine points apiece. Gray added seven points and seven rebounds as Chris Stowell and Eric Bowen each had six points and Kegebein produced six rebounds, one more than Cody and Lorenzo Thompson.  None of this indicated that C-NS would turn it around against F-M. Yet the Northstars, back on its home floor, outscored the Hornets in every single quarter, steadily building a 32-26 halftime lead and using a 21-12 push through the third quarter to put it out of reach.  This turned into a showcase for Merluzzi, who led in four statistical categories with 16 points, seven steals, five assists and six rebounds. Cody and Gunn both got 10 points, with Jordan Garnett stepping up for seven points and five rebounds. Kegebein, Stowell and Bowen had six points apiece.  Liverpool, meanwhile, was busy handling the same Henninger side that won at C-NS two weeks earlier. Stifling defense made up for offensive woes in the first half , creating a 24-15 lead, but the game remained within range until the Warriors erupted for 30 points in the fourth quarter, more than twice the Black Knights’ total.


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