Finally healthy and with impressive back-to-back wins over Conference A-I pacesetters Jericho and Roslyn, it looked like defending Nassau Class A boys’ basketball champion South Side was beginning to hit stride.
Last Friday night, however, the Cyclones took a step back with a 53-41 defeat at Garden City. They shot 0-for-17 from three-point range on the way to falling to 3-2 in conference play and 5-5 overall. Senior Gerald Mitchell was their lone double-digit scorer with 12 points.
“Garden City played extremely well and our intensity level was nothing like it was against Jericho and Roslyn,” South Side coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “It was just one of those nights where few things went our way. We created open looks, but the shots weren’t dropping.”
D’Angelo said the Cyclones’ seven-minute scoring drought in the second quarter was “probably the toughest stretch I’ve seen us have.” Garden City, which had four players score in double figures led by Ed Blatz’s 12 points, outscored South Side 15-5 in the quarter and held a 27-15 lead at intermission.
“I thought Garden City did a great job from a physical standpoint,” D’Angelo said. “They banged us around more than any other team we’ve faced.
“From top to bottom our conference is the best in Class A,” he added. “We went and beat two teams that were playing really good basketball, and then Garden City turns around and beats us. Now we have to look to get back on track.”
In its previous two games, South Side handed both Jericho and Roslyn its first conference losses. Mitchell led a well-rounded offense in both wins, pouring in 17 in a 64-43 triumph at Jericho on Jan. 3, and 23 in a 64-50 decision over Roslyn on Jan. 8.
The Jericho game was a rematch of last year’s Class A final. The Jayhawks scored the first six points and led 14-3 late in the first quarter when D’Angelo burned his second timeout to make some adjustments. “We turned up the press a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t force a lot of turnovers, but what it did was force them into taking quicker, low-percentage shots.”