Depth keys South Side's success


Following a three-game absence from an ankle injury, senior guard and two-time All-County selection Kyla Murphy returned for the South Side girls’ basketball team last Saturday and helped it defeat Division, 52-46, in a key Conference AA-3 matchup.

Even though South Side only lost one game without Murphy, there was still a sizeable hole in their rotation.

“Kyla provides a sense of comfort,” Cyclones head coach Dan Ferrick said. “You know she's going to get a basket or two, even when things are not necessarily going well. It makes everyone else relaxed. They were missing that comfort. It's almost like missing your blanket. She's not replaceable.”

What helped South Side survive was its abundance of depth. Senior guard Dakota Evans averaged 12 points with Murphy out of the lineup.

This season has been one of growth for Evans. She has taken on a larger role with Charlotte Rathjen out for the season.

“We like the fact that she's gotten more aggressive,” Ferrick said of Evans. “She gets great shots, but I'm waiting for that blowout game. She can do it, and you know it's there. She can flat-out shoot the ball.”

Considering how well they played without Murphy, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Cyclones (12-4 overall, 9-1 in AA-3) would be that much stronger with her back on the floor. That wasn’t the case to start against Division.

While South Side primarily focused on defending the paint, Division feasted on shots from mid-range and beyond. To make matters worse, the Cyclones began the game 0-for-10 from the field. At one point, they trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.

“We are just a very slow-starting team,” Ferrick said. “Usually, in the first three minutes of a game, we just miss a lot of shots. Then it's almost like once we make one or two, then all of a sudden, the landslide comes.”

The landslide came as Murphy poured in 19 points for her highest point total in her last five games. While South Side was still down in the third, Ferrick took Murphy off the floor to rest her for a fourth-quarter comeback, only to be met with a glare of disdain from the guard.

“She's so competitive,” Ferrick said. “That's the crazy part with her. Her threshold of pain is so high. I don't think you can even compare it to anyone.”

South Side mounted the pressure in the fourth while leaning once again on its depth. Evans added 9 points, Reese Long had 8, and Ellie Lennon chipped in 7.

Freshman Katelyn Mullen had four points, and three of them were the biggest of the game, as she knocked down a trey from the corner to tie the score at 41.

“I can constantly just throw people in. Having bench depth is very much a key, and it will be going forward,” Ferrick said.

With four games remaining, South Side needs at least three wins in order to meet its preseason goal of claiming a top-four seed in the Nassau County Class AA playoffs. How will Ferrick’s team accomplish that?

“We're just going to do what we do best, which is cause some chaos,” Ferrick said.