There was no halftime realignment; no tuneup for the South Side engine. "Just keep our pedal to the metal,'' point guard Keith Ruiz said.
The Cyclones misfired for much of the first half but were hitting on all cylinders after the break. They opened the third quarter with a 13-3 run, then really accelerated at the start of the fourth quarter with a 15-0 burst and pulled away for a 65-44 victory over host Westbury Tuesday night in a battle of unbeaten teams in Nassau Conference A-I.
"We didn't really do anything different. We just executed better on offense, made shots and rebounded really well,'' coach Jerry D'Angelo said after South Side improved to 7-0 as Alex Sorensen and super sub Erik Shirland scored 15 points each.
"On the first three possessions of the second half, we got a layup , a jumper and a three [ Ruiz]. Our depth allows our starters to be fresh in the fourth quarter.''
That clearly was the case as South Side broke open the game with a fourth-quarter explosion. Shirland ignited it with 11 points. His conventional three-point play off a feed from Sorensen got it started. Shirland got open for a pair of wing three-pointers sandwiched around a basket and two free throws by Sorensen that made it 63-37 and ensured Westbury would fall to 6-1.
"Our team works well together. We like to drive and kick and find the open man,'' Ruiz said. "Our bench provided all the energy. We are a deep team.''
Shirland was the Cyclones' key man off the bench in the fourth quarter, but it was Ruiz who redirected South Side with three treys during the game-turning third quarter that began with the visitors clinging to a 24-23 lead. Sorensen added five points in the third and grabbed several important offensive rebounds.
"Our bench is so good,'' said Sorensen, who had a double-double, adding 11 rebounds. "As a team, we rebounded much better in the second half. We started making shots and playing better defense, too.''
South Side's balance makes it a tough team to defend. D'Angelo said that in nine games, the Cyclones have had seven different players lead in scoring. Sorensen and Shirland were ably backed by Ruiz (nine points), Pandolfi (seven points, nine rebounds) and Gallego (eight points). Jonathan Dean led Westbury with 12 points.
"We have a solid nine or 10 guys,'' D'Angelo said. "Alex rebounds the heck out of the ball and he's versatile. He can score inside and go out and shoot the three. Keith is really turning it up on offense and he's quick in transition.''
Vroom-vroom! That's the sound of South Side so far this season.