Thursday night’s game between South Side and Wantagh was exactly what you’d expect between two girls basketball powerhouses.
It was a physical, well-contested affair from the opening tip to the final whistle, with South Side getting the better of their Nassau A-II counterparts, 52-42.
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“This win boosts our confidence,” senior Maria Karanasos said. “Since my freshman year, this is the first time we’ve beaten Wantagh.”
Jourdin Thomas finished with 19 points and four assists despite being met by two defenders each time she touched the ball.
She still drove through the doubles, creating open looks for her teammates, which coach Dan Ferrick said is the key to the Cyclones’ attack.
“They had to put two girls on her, which opened up for the rest of the team,” Ferrick said. “And she expected that, where they’re going to try to lock her up. But with a player like her, you’re not going to be able to completely lock her up.”
Thomas proved that point time and again, facilitating the offense for South Side (5-0) despite constant pressure.
“I capitalize off their physicality,” Thomas said.
Wantagh led 25-24 at halftime thanks to Darcie Smith (10 points, 14 rebounds), Julianna Kissane (13 points) and Caitlin Albanese (seven). After the first half, Ferrick told his team to relax and play at their own pace.
The Cyclones took Ferrick’s message in stride, opening up the second half on a 13-3 run.
It was Thomas, Karanasos (eight points, 10 rebounds) and Jenna Lopez (nine points, four assists) who did the early damage in the half by defending, driving and pushing the tempo.
“Out of the half, we went out on a run and that was it,” Thomas said. “That picked up our energy.”
South Side didn’t trail again after a Karanasos layup just over a minute into the second half.
Wantagh (4-1) continually threatened, though, closing the third with an 8-4 run to cut the lead to 41-36. Consecutive layups by Kissane and Smith closed it to 46-42 with 1:58 remaining in the game, but the Cyclones finished with six straight free throws to hold off the comeback.
Ferrick, who said this one was for bragging rights, knew his group was capable of beating teams such as Wantagh.
“We know how good we can play,” he said. “We just have to continue playing at a high level.”