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Bethlehem puts Cicero-North Syracuse away for regional title

The Bethlehem Central Lady Eagles are playing like a team of destiny.

After a 42-40 loss to Mohonasen on Jan. 23, the Eagles have won 10 straight games including a 50-40 win over Cicero-North Syracuse in Saturday's Class AA regional final at Liverpool High School.

Bethlehem advances to Friday's state semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College against Kingston.

Before the game began, C-NS had two advantages over Bethle-hem. The Northstars had 6-foot, 3-inch freshman Breanna Stewart and a large, vocal crowd.

The first 16 minutes the game came down to two players: Stewart against Alex McCullough for the Eagles.

We just strategized, and coach (Mark Nealon) taught us a few little tricks to get around her, said the 6-foot, 1-inch McCullough.

Although Stewart won the point battle between the two centers (she finished with 18 points), McCullough's quick three-point release and lane aggressiveness sparked the Eagles to a 20-15 halftime lead. McCullough finished the game with 13 points.

As the third quarter began, the Northstars defense stepped up, forcing more turnovers and uncharacteristically sloppy passing. But it seemed like all that the Eagles needed was something to kick the adrenaline in.

They got it in the second half from a somewhat unexpected place: Caitlin Dole. She hit two clutch three-pointers to help Bethlehem maintain its lead. She ended up with seven points overall.

"It felt really good, especially the second one. A lot of the defenders were really in our face, and it felt good to hit it and get us a good lead going into the fourth quarter," said Dole.

Bethlehem advances to Friday's state semifinal against Section IX champion Kingston at Hudson Valley Community College.""

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