South Side center Brett Cohen called them "cheap points," but they were quite costly to Elmont. In reality the only reason Cohen's putbacks came so easily was because he worked so hard.
Cohen scored 26 points, including five late, as visiting South Side scored the final nine points to defeat previously undefeated Elmont, 65-50, Thursday in a Nassau ABC-1 game. The Cyclones improved to 8-3 overall, 3-1 in league while the Spartans fell to 10-1, 3-1.
"Last year, we were heavy favorites and got blown out by Elmont in our opener by 30 points. We had some unfinished business," said Cohen, who made 12 field goals, all but one from close range. That one was a three, one of eight the Cyclones hit as they built up a 50-35 lead after three quarters, before Elmont rallied with an effective all-court trap.
"We knew they'd trap and put pressure on us," South Side coach Jerry D'Angelo said. "They always try to wear you down in the fourth quarter. Our focus was to rebound to minimize their second-chance shots; play defense to prevent penetration, and minmize our turnovers."
Elmont was able to make things interesting for the home crowd by applying defensive pressure that resulted in several turnovers. Isaiah Watson, who led the Spartans with 17 points, scored twice after steals, the last one cutting the deficit to six at 56-50 with 2:32 left. Those were Elmont's final points.
"We were trying so hard to catch up and we were driving the ball," Elmont coach George Holub said. "But we kept missing shots and we just didn't rotate back."
Cohen, who also grabbed 14 rebounds, took a nice bounce pass from Kevin Waxon to convert a fast break, then put back a missed layup by Leon Taylor (12 points). Cohen helped finish the next break with a pass to Dave White (10 points). Then Taylor hit two free throws and Cohen made one of two to close out the 9-0 run.
"The main thing was to stay calm," Cohen said. "We called a timeout and that settled us down. As a big man, my job is to establish inside pressure and open up shots for our guards."
That worked in the middle of the game when South Side hit four treys each in the second and third quarters. "We didn't close out on their shooters," Holub said.
And the Spartan couldn't prevent the Cyclones from closing out the game.