South Side spotted host Glen Cove 14 of the first 16 points in last Saturday’s Nassau Conference A-III boys’ basketball matchup, but showed the kind of poise and resiliency head coach Jerry D’Angelo hoped.
The Cyclones cut the margin to six by the end of the first quarter, took a three-point lead at the half, and never trailed the rest of the day on the way to a 54-45 victory.
Junior Eamon McGowan had 15 points and five rebounds, junior Quinn Shannon had 12 points, and senior Peter Pellegrini added seven points and 10 rebounds as first-place South Side completed a season sweep of the Big Red and improved to 7-1 in A-III. Senior Dajour Gibson had a game-high 16 points to lead Glen Cove (3-5 in A-III), which played without second-leading scorer Michael Vaughan due to a finger injury.
“Glen Cove is as athletic as any team in our conference,” D’Angelo said. “They started strong and we didn’t come out with the kind of energy we’re used to bringing.
“I didn’t want to burn any timeouts early,” he added. “I’m trying to develop a sense of trust and it was nice to see the kids slowly dig themselves out of a hole.”
Gibson was the biggest reason Glen Cove was sitting pretty after five minutes, leading 14-2. He finished the opening quarter with 10 points and also assisted on sophomore Jordan Mercado’s trey.
“We played really well for a half,” Big Red head coach Peter Falen said. “I thought the first five minutes of the second half defined the game when they came up with an offensive rebound on five straight possessions.”
The Cyclones, who won the first meeting 56-48 on Dec. 17, closed the quarter on a 9-2 run but trailed by nine in the second before a trapping defense and hard work on the boards fueled the turnaround. During a 10-point run that vaulted the visitors ahead for the first time, 24-23, both McGowan and junior Ryan Ledwith had breakaway layups off steals. Senior point guard Chris Thomas and Ledwith went 2-for-2 from the line to open and close the spurt, respectively, and junior Griffin O’Shea added a basket. South Side led 30-27 at halftime.
“Depth is one of our biggest strengths and I think we showed in the second quarter we can rely on our sixth, seventh and eighth guys to play important minutes,” D’Angelo said. “At the half we talked about what we needed to continue to do to get out of here with a win.”
Shannon dialed long distance twice and McGowan once in the third quarter to help the Cyclones extend their lead to 45-35. A collective rebounding effort resulted in second-chance points and limited Glen Cove’s possessions. Seniors Jared Jackson and Matt Graf added six points apiece for the Big Red, who visit Plainedge on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We need to win four of our last six to make the playoffs,” Falen said. “We have work to do, but it’s attainable.”
South Side hosts Roslyn at 1 p.m. Saturday. “We’re feeling pretty good, but this is only the first team we’ve played twice,” D’Angelo said.