Another chapter in what’s become a spirited basketball rivalry between South Side and Kellenberg was written Friday evening in the championship game of the annual Cyclone Holiday Tournament after both teams rallied from a double-digit deficit the previous night to secure the matchup.
Kellenberg built an 11-point halftime lead and withstood several second-half South Side spurts on the way to a 76-65 victory before a standing-room-only crowd. In winning their seventh consecutive game to start the season, the Firebirds got a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds from senior Jeremy Arthur, the tourney MVP, while seniors Rich Ragusa (16), Brian Gellineau (12) and Conor Powers (10) all scored in double figures. The Cyclones (2-3) were led by senior Gerald Mitchell’s 21 points.
“Whenever we play it’s a close game,” Kellenberg coach Jack McCutcheon said. “It’s developed into a fun rivalry. We always have some kids from the Rockville Centre area, and we look forward to coming into this environment. It helps us prepare for the regular season.”
Dating back to 2004, only South Side (five times) and Kellenberg (four) have won the Cyclone Tournament.
The Firebirds, who trailed by as many as 12 points against Valley Stream Central in the opening round of the tournament, never looked back against the Cyclones after junior Ryan Durney’s traditional three-point play snapped a deadlock at 26 late in the first half and sparked an 11-2 run. “That run before halftime was big,” McCutcheon said. “I knew they’d come back at us. They play great defense, so no lead is safe.”
South Side, finally healthy after injuries to four players made for a challenging start, sliced a 15-point deficit down to four in the third quarter as Mitchell caught fire. He hit a trio of three-pointers in the quarter, including one from NBA-range, and sank two free throws to get the hosts within 45-40.