Depth carries South Side


Less than 24 hours after South Side raced to an 18-point first-quarter lead in a convincing victory over visiting Conference A-I boys’ basketball rival Wantagh, the Cyclones produced their biggest quarter of 2013-14 on the way to avenging last season’s setback at Garden City.

Seniors Paul Pandolfi (13), Pace Shaw (six), and Erik Shirland (five) combined for 24 of South Side’s 29 third-quarter points in last Saturday afternoon’s 74-46 victory at Garden City. Shaw and Shirland finished with a game-high 15 points apiece — off the bench — and senior Keith Ruiz added 11 as the Cyclones (7-1 overall) improved to 5-0 in conference games and kept pace with Westbury atop the standings.

“We had a little bit of a letdown in the second quarter and found ourselves behind by a point,” South Side head coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “We went up by four at the half and talked about some things we needed to do better.

“We switched some screens and did a good job denying their passing lanes,” he added. “We created some turnovers, got out in transition and shot well. Our depth showed in the second half.”

D’Angelo said he used the same starting lineup for a fifth straight game — Pandolfi, Ruiz, senior Keith Phifer, junior Garrett Gallego and sophomore Alex Sorensen — but called on the reserves early and often once again. Junior Jon Cheslock chipped in five points and junior Tim Kelly had a basket as the reserves accounted for more than half (38) of the Cyclones’ offense. 

“I compare this group to our team from five years ago,” D’Angelo said. “We lost to Roslyn in the county final that season but we were incredibly deep. This team isn’t exactly like that team, but it’s pretty comparable. We rely on just about everyone and I’ve made a commitment to playing our depth.

“Having this kind of depth makes for quality practices,” he added. “Our first five against our second five is fun to watch.”

Shirland, Shaw, senior Matt Pandolfi and sophomore Matt Diluccio are making large contributions. “We don’t send all four out at once, but there are times when they’re playing together and we don’t sacrifice a thing,” D’Angelo said.

Ten players got on the floor within the first 10 minutes of last Friday’s 67-46 win over Wantagh. Phifer and Ruiz led a trapping defense that forced the Warriors’ backcourt into mistakes and led to transition baskets. South Side led 24-6 after eight minutes and never looked back. Pandolfi had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Phifer added 11 points, six rebounds and five steals.  

On Jan. 7, the reserves combined for 31 points to lead a 73-50 victory at Jericho. Shirland had 13 to set the pace, and Matt Pandolfi added 11. Sorensen popped for 18 in a game that saw the Cyclones sink seven three-pointers.

“We’ve been starting off well and closing games out,” D’Angelo said.

The second half of the conference schedule begins Friday when South Side hosts Carey in a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.