South Side advances to championship game


Balanced scoring and a defensive adjustment after allowing 14 opening-quarter points propelled South Side to a 50-39 victory over Roslyn in a Nassau Class AA boys’ basketball semifinal Tuesday night at Farmingdale State College.

It was the 20th win of the season for the defending Long Island champion Cyclones, who’ll try to repeat as county champs this Saturday against fifth-seeded Elmont at 3:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State.

Sophomores John Pericolosi (11 points) and Ryan Schmitt (10) led second-seeded South Side’s widespread offense that saw seniors Matt DeSena (8), Francis Sweeney (7) and Patrick Mullin (5), and junior Connor Fernandez (5) all contribute. Senior Ryan Kennedy pulled down 11 rebounds.

“That was a battle,” Cyclones head coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “Roslyn came into the playoffs on a hot streak and we knew we had our work cut out. We fell behind but had a nice second quarter to get the lead at halftime. In the third we had success with our defense and it led to points in transition. Then we held them off in the fourth.”

Third-seeded Roslyn led 14-10 after the first quarter but managed just one field goal and four points in the second as South Side (20-3) found the lead for the first time on a Fernandez trey and never looked back. The Bulldogs trailed 20-18 at halftime and were never within a single possession again.

“We keep proving doubters wrong,” Mullin said. “Our coaches always have us prepared and we play our best when the pressure is on. We wanted to pound the ball inside and use our size to our advantage.”

The Cyclones led by as many as 12 in the third quarter, but Roslyn cut the margin to 32-28 in the closing seconds before Sweeney beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to help South Side regain momentum.

“We got production from everyone who stepped on the floor,” D’Angelo said.

South Side’s playoff road began Feb. 15 with a home victory over No. 15 Bethpage, 46-32. The Cyclones trailed by four after the opening quarter and were locked in a halftime tie before outscoring the Golden Eagles 11-0 in the third quarter to seize command. Mullin (13), Schmitt (12) and Sweeney (10) all scored in double figures.

Five days later saw a rematch of last year’s Class A championship game against No. 7 Manhasset live up to all the hype. South Side trailed the quarterfinal late before rallying for a 58-53 home win. A steal around midcourt by DeSena inside of 10 seconds was the key play in crunch time. It led to a pair of DeSena free throws to make it a two-possession game.

“It was a wild back-and-forth game,” D’Angelo said. “Both teams had a seven-point lead at one point.”

Mullin led the Cyclones with 21 points. Schmitt added 13 and DeSena and Pericolosi chipped in 10 apiece as South Side avenged a Feb. 3 regular-season home defeat to the Indians.