It was supposed to be a nice little warmup for No. 3 Bolingbrook (Ill.)
– with the added spice of two future UConn players going head-to-head in the first round of the Nike TOC in Phoenix.
, the 6-foot-2 power forward for Bolingbrook, and Breanna Stewart
, the 6-3 wing from Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.)
, would show off their skills, the Northstars would hang around for a while, and then the Raiders would send them packing into the loser's bracket.
Didn't happen. Cicero-North pulled off 43-40 shocker.
Bolingbrook purportedly has nine Division I players on its roster, and the Raiders came to Phoenix to win the Joe Smith Division and go on to win the national title.
And since Stewart, a long and skilled wing, made just three baskets all game, it certainly added up to a Bolingbrook romp – except for one little detail: The Raiders couldn't make a shot.
They struggled all night, building a six-point second-quarter lead but quickly giving it back, and couldn't put the pesky Northstars away. It was basically a one-point game all through the second and third quarters, with Bolingbrook missing easy shots and Cicero-North somehow hanging around.
And then, when Brittany Paul
hit a 3-pointer with 2:20 left, suddenly the Northstars were up 37-35, and it began to dawn on Bolingbrook that the Raiders might actually lose the game. And then when Stewart scored on a drive and converted the and-one, it was 40-35 with a minute left – and panic began to set in.
But Bolingbrook got a hoop to cut it to three, Cicero-North missed a free throw, and the Raiders had a chance to tie with 12 seconds left. Tuck, known more for her power than finesse, took an inbounds pass beyond the arc and calmly drained a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to tie the game.
Bedlam for Bolingbrook – but only briefly. The Northstars broke the press, and there was Paul all alone in the corner. The 3 went up and found nothing but net, and though Tuck's half-court attempt hit the rim as the buzzer sounded, Cicero-North had pulled off what one long-time observer said was "the biggest upset he'd ever seen."
Bolingbrook's national title dreams, up in smoke.
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And speaking of the sound of balloons being punctured, there was No. 5 MacArthur (Irving, Texas)
, watching the air go out of the Lone Star State dirigible, as Windward (Los Angeles)
rode 28 points from point guard Jordin Canada
to a 60-56 win. The Cardinals were up 10 early in the second half but superstar Alexis Jones
wasn't quite steady enough to keep MacArthur on course, so the Cardinals join Bolingbrook on the wrong side of the bracket.
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Oh, and No. 3 St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
also took a fall, as Kyvin Goodin-Rogers buried a long 3 in the final minutes to help Marion County (Lebanon, Ky.)
join the upstarts in the winner's bracket.
So, if you've kept track, that's three of the top five in the nation that were dropped at the Nike TOC – in the first round.
Two ranked Northern California teams – No. 21 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.)
and No. 25 Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
– also got knocked off, but at least St. Mary's had an excuse: The Rams lost to No. 9 Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.)
, while O'Dowd, playing in the second-best bracket, was upset by Villa Maria Academy (Erie, Pa.)
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So what's left after the first day's carnage? No. 2 St. Mary's (Phoenix)
got 28 first-half points from Shilpa Tummala
in a 66-37 rout of Christ the King, and could take advantage of sleeping at home to roll to the finals. Also, No. 1 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
looked strong in an easy first-round win.
But so far, rankings and reputation don't count for much – and we'll keep you up to date on the body count with another report tomorrow.