For the third time in five seasons, South Side and Elmont will meet to determine Nassau County’s Class A boys’ basketball champion.
They’ve got 28 consecutive wins between them and both enjoyed runaway victories in last Saturday’s semifinals at Farmingdale State. Sparked by a final lead-changing, buzzer-beating trey by Ryan Ledwith to close the first half, third-seeded South Side upped its winning streak to 16 games with a 73-53 decision over No. 7 Manhasset.
Ledwith, who finished with 14 points, was one of four Cyclones to score in double figures. Jake Murphy led the charge with 19 points, while Eamon McGowan added 14 and Quinn Shannon hit for 12. Also instrumental were Jack McDonald and Anthony Pericolisi, who chipped in 7 and 6 points, respectively.
“Ryan’s shot at the end of the half was a nice boost because with the amount of foul trouble we had, it allowed us to go into halftime with energy and momentum,” South Side head coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “We had a good game plan but it all changed after four minutes because of foul trouble. The way we defended the perimeter was probably the biggest stat.”
Manhasset, which scored 87 points in its quarterfinal win over Hewlett, was held to six points in the third quarter by South Side after a 10-point spurt in the second that gave it a 30-29 lead before Ledwith’s shot. D’Angelo said he was thrilled with holding the Indians to only five three-pointers on the night.
“Just like Elmont, you have to be aware of all five kids Manhasset puts on the floor,” D’Angelo said. “We limited their threes and we did a much better job rebounding in the second half.”
McGowan scored all of his points over the final 16 minutes. He picked up two fouls midway through the opening quarter. “Looking at it from a positive standpoint, Eamon got more rest than he’s ever gotten,” D’Angelo noted. “We drew up a play for him to start to the second half and he was able to score off it. He played aggressive.”
Shannon picked up his second personal early in the second quarter, but the Cyclones stayed within striking distance as Pericolisi, Owen Mullen and Griffin O’Shea provided strong minutes off the bench.
“I thought we did a nice job defensively in transition,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a bigger court than we’re all used to with a lot of space to cover.”
Top-seeded Elmont advanced to the title game with a 92-64 victory over No. 4 Jericho in the earlier semifinal. “South Side has a strong team,” Spartans head coach George Holub said. “We need to play well to beat them.”
Elmont topped South Side in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 finals, one decided in double OT and the other on a late basket in regulation.
“They don’t have a weakness and they’re a fun team to watch from a spectator’s point of view,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. “Everyone has to do their jobs. We need to defend, rebound and minimize turnovers.”