South Side tops Manhasset for county title

Cyclones knock off defending state champs


After not scoring in South Side’s Nassau Class A boys’ basketball semifinal playoff victory over Elmont four days earlier, senior point guard James Bivona made up for it and then some Saturday evening on the biggest stage against the defending state champions.

Bivona nailed his first three shots, including a pair from behind the arc, netting eight of his 13 points in the opening quarter to spark the second-seeded Cyclones in a 57-46 upset victory over No. 1 Manhasset at Hofstra University.

“I didn’t play well against Elmont and I wanted nothing more than to support my teammates tonight because Josh [Garelle], Rob [Pericolosi] and James [Murphy] bring it every game,” Bivona said. “I felt confident in warmups and it always feels good to hit your first shot.

“We slayed the dragon," he added. "It’s an incredible feeling that’s hard to describe. We’ve been working four months for this moment and waited a year to get another shot at Manhasset.”

Garelle poured in a game-high 16 points, Pericolosi added 11 and Murphy chipped in nine as South Side won its 23rd consecutive game and its 11th county championship in program history and first since the 2011-12 campaign. Senior Liam Connor had a 15 points and junior James Notias added 14 for the Indians, who eliminated the Cyclones in last year’s semifinals.

“We knew it was going to take a near-perfect game to beat a great team like Manhasset,” South Side head coach Jerry D’Angelo said. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better start and we did an excellent job defending and rebounding against a big team. I’m so proud of our kids. We’ll enjoy this for a while and get ready for the next one.”

The Cyclones (23-1) advance to face Kings Park in the Long Island Class A title game next Saturday at Stony Brook University at 2 p.m. Manhasset, which defeated Kings Park in last year’s LIC, finished 22-2.

“It’s going to take a while for this to sink in,” said the 6-foot-5 Garelle, one of South Side’s four senior starters. “This has been a dream for four years. We watched a lot of film on them and know they can put together runs. They jumped ahead in the third quarter but we were able to weather the storm and respond.”

Manhasset scored the game’s first basket but didn’t lead again until Connor’s layup midway through the third quarter made it 28-27. The Cyclones, who raced to a 16-6 lead after one and clung to a 23-22 halftime edge, took the lead back for good after Murphy nailed a step-back trey.

South Side closed the third with back-to-back dynamic possessions to take a 37-30 lead into the fourth. Bivona swished a trey from the corner and then Pericolosi hit a jump hook in the lane, sending the Cyclones’ supporters into a frenzy.

“We’ve been able to play with composure all season,” D’Angelo said. “That has a lot to do with experience. We took a couple of big swings Manhasset thew at us and didn’t get rattled. And in the fourth quarter, we hit our free throws.”

Junior Matthew Arnott and Pericolosi opened the fourth with baskets and the margin swelled to 11. Garelle went 5-for-6 from the line in the final six minutes, while Pericolosi and Murphy were both perfect on their lone trips.

“We had a lot to prove,” Garelle said. “We really wanted it.”