A championship-caliber team needs balance, chemistry, a strong defensive foundation, and most importantly, depth. It was that depth that led South Side over Lynbrook Friday night in a 58-41 win at Lynbrook.
Though much of his bench's play won't show up in the stat sheets, head coach Gerry D'Angelo said he takes note of the concerted effort. "Bruno played really well guarding No. 3 (Kendall Bruton)," D'Angelo said. "We got a lot of hustle plays out of Weber, and that stuff won't show up in the box score."
South Side will need its bench now more than ever, as senior captain Kevin Waxon is out 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist. Junior Robert Piccione got the start in Waxon's absence, and Kevin Coyle picked up the scoring slack, dropping 15 points, four assists, with three, three-pointers and a steal. Junior Ryan Spadaford had 14 points and grabbed 11 boards, and as a team, the Cyclones shot 15 for 19 from the charity stripe.
Lynbrook head coach Kevin Monaghan explained that his team needs to be more physical to run with South Side. "We need to play better defense and box out," he said. "The defense leads to offense. We were playing one of the best teams in the conference and they outworked us."
South Side played an efficient game, out-rebounding the Owls 30-21, and only committed 11 turnovers, with seven of those coming in the fourth with most of the bench on the court.
In the first quarter, Lynbrook was paced by point guard Kendall Bruton and forward Johnny Emmerich, who scored eight of the Owls' ten first-quarter points. Coyle began the game hot, scoring five points with a steal and an assist. Bruton sliced his way through the lane and found open teammates in the game's opening minutes, but South Side prepared for the electric point guard by sliding double teams his way at the top of the key. Bruton finished the game with nine points and Emmerich with 10.
"We knew he was their purest offensive threat," D'Angelo said of Bruton. "He's very explosive, so we slid guys over to get the ball out of his hands."
Spadaford scored eight of his 14 points in the second quarter, as bench players like Tim Gangadeen and Piccione played tough defense, blocked shots and outplayed Lynbrook's bench. By half, South Side led 32-19.
The Cyclones shot well in the third, outscoring Lynbrook 18-10 in the quarter, increasing its lead to 50-29. D'Angelo went to his bench for most of the fourth, and they were only outscored by two points in the final eight minutes.
South Side's dynamic offense will need to tailor its game plan with Waxon out, D'Angelo noted. "It's a little different," he said of how the team plays without the senior captain. "Coyle shot well tonight, but Waxon gets most of his points in the lane. We missed a lot of easy shots tonight. We should have 18 more points, but we missed layups and we can't afford to do that."
Lynbrook will travel to Bethpage tonight at 6:30 p.m.