TROY When the nation's top high school girls basketball player Breanna Stewart lumbered off the court at Hudson Valley Community College Saturday, she was sporting a golfball size welt just under her right eye.
She was also sporting an ear-to-ear grin.
Despite being roughed up in the contest, Stewart scored 28 points in leading Cicero-North Syracuse to a convincing 58-39 victory over Colonie in the Class AA regional finals.
The victory earned the Northstars a return trip to the state tournament next weekend at HVCC. Colonie -- the Section II champion -- was making its first regional appearance since 2007.
"We knew what we were up against today," said Colonie coach Heather Fiore of Stewart and the top-ranked Northstars. "We came out ready to play. Everything we had they had an answer for. We tried a lot of defenses, but they just kept beating us."
Stewart's welt came during a collision with Colonie's Laura Kipper as they both dove for a loose ball.
"We bumped heads pretty hard," said Kipper, as she ran her hand alongside her forehead and massaging a bump. "She's a very physical player."
Colonie's three-point baskets kept it in the game early, as Cicero-North Syracuse built an 18-14 lead in the first quarter. Twelve of the Garnet Raiders' 14 points came on threes, while Stewart paced C-NS with 11 points.
The three-point shots stopped falling for Colonie in the second quarter, but Stewart's shots kept going through the basket. Stewart poured in 12 points to help C-NS extend its lead to 37-22 at halftime.
"They (C-NS) did a good job adjusting," Fiore said. "They were leaving our guards open, (and) then they went to man (defense) to stop them. They switched back to zone and then to man. We weren't attacking like we should have, and we tried a lot of different defenses but they kept beating us."