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Hewlett tops South Side in thriller

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Hewlett’s red-hot three-point shooting display against South Side on Jan. 3 was fittingly decided by a clutch shot from beyond the arc that delivered the Bulldogs their first conference win.

Junior forward Brett Karkus sank a corner three with 5 seconds left to put Hewlett up two before Oren Shmuel forced a turnover on the ensuing South Side possession to seal a dramatic 61-59 win. The Karkus shot was Hewlett’s 14th trey of the game and capped off a back-and-forth final quarter that saw six lead changes.

“We started off slow and lost our first two league games and hopefully this will be a good stepping point to a few more victories,” said Hewlett head coach Bill Dubin, whose team improved to 1-2 in Conference A-III with the win while handing South Side its first league loss. “We’re growing up to be a little more resilient.”

Hewlett earned its first conference victory despite a furious South Side comeback that saw the Cyclones close the third quarter on 20-0 run after trailing 42-21. Junior guard Eamon McGowan forced a steal and converted a layup in transition while drawing contact with 1:16 left to give the Cyclones a late 59-58 lead. The Cyclones then had the ball with a chance to run some clock before Hewlett’s pressure defense forced an errant pass out of bounds with 15.6 seconds left to set the stage for Karkus’ heroics.

“They made some tough shots at the end of the game,” South Side head coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “Hopefully we learn from this that you can’t win games just playing a good second half.”

Karkus led Hewlett with 29 points on the strength of eight three-pointers including five in the fourth quarter alone. Sophomore Jesse Korkos was also hot from the perimeter with four three-pointers to account for his 12 points just two weeks after moving from junior varsity. Mac Rochler dished out seven assists to go along with nine points.

“We’re a young team and we’re growing,” Dubin said. “This win will help us grow a little.”

South Side’s offense was led by guard Jack McDonald ‘s 17 points with forward Quinn Shannon tallying 16. Senior guard Chris Thomas and McGowan both contributed eight points apiece.

The Cyclones entered their first game of January winners of four of five to start the season with the only setback coming in a 56-55 non-league setback to Syosset on a buzzer-beater with .5 seconds left. South Side was slow out of the gate at Hewlett, trailing 18-8 after the first quarter and 36-21 at halftime before outscoring the Bulldogs 44-28 in the second half.

“Our energy level was definitely better in the second half,” D’Angelo said. “We just have to figure out how to play four quarters instead of two.”

South Side (3-1) rebounded from the Hewlett heartbreaker with 51-46 home win against Bethpage two days later with Hewlett (1-3) falling 62-51 at Plainedge.

The South Shore foes will square off for a rematch on Jan. 29 in Rockville Centre at 7 p.m.