South Side adjusting to absences


The South Side girls’ basketball team is once again fighting for a conference title as the season hits the halfway point. But for that to continue, the Cyclones will need to get healthier and find more contributors on offense.

They suffered back-to-back losses to non-conference foe Plainview Jan. 3 and defending county champion Manhasset, one of the teams fighting the Cyclones for first, last Saturday to fall to 7-3 (4-1 Conference AA3.) The game was tied at 25 at halftime before the Indians began to pull away with a 17-9 third quarter.

South Side was without starting point guard Katherine Ahern (stress fracture in foot), and All-County forward Charlotte Rathjen, who has yet to play this season because of a back injury and is questionable to return this season. Those voids have left head coach Dan Ferrick scrambling to find the right lineup combination in recent weeks.

“Everything’s going fine,” he said. “Right now, we have three girls that are out. It’s gotten more playing time for others, so we’re kinda still trying to figure it all out.”

There have been no worries at all with two-time All-County star Kyla Murphy, who is averaging just over 15 points a game. Murphy has had four 20-point games thus far, and her basket with three seconds left lifted the Cyclones to a 37-36 victory over Plainedge in the season opener.

“Right now, she’s a double-double every game,” Ferrick said. “You just don’t find that. She can dominate on the boards and then she’s going to put her points up. She’s very consistent and she goes to work every day.”

But searching for that consistent secondary scorer with Ahern and Rathjen out has been murky. Senior Dakota Evans (8.4 ppg) did have a 23-point game in a win over East Rockaway on Dec. 16, sophomore Ellie Lennon (5.5) came close to double digits twice with a pair of nine-point efforts and freshmen Reese Long (6.4) and Katelyn Mullen (4.3) have shown flashes of potential.

Of the four, Ferrick is counting on Evans the most to be that weapon.

“We’re really looking for her to be more of a scorer,” Ferrick said. “She’s probably the best shooter on the team. But all we’re looking for is more consistency throughout the team.”

The Cyclones still own one of the stingiest defenses in the county by allowing just over 35 points a game.

The team’s biggest win of the season so far was arguably a 44-37 revenge victory over Division on Dec. 19. Murphy had a game-high 28 points and went 11-of-12 from the free throw line as South Side avenged last year’s overtime loss to the Blue Dragons in the Round of 16 despite a 20-3 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter.

South Side will have a chance to right itself over the next four games with matchups against Glen Cove, Kennedy and Roosevelt, who occupy the bottom three spots in the conference, sandwiched around a rematch at Bethpage, who the Cyclones easily handled 60-19 on Dec. 12.