South Side used a wrinkle to iron out its problems.
“We switched to a little more defensive pressure in the second half and forced them to play faster than they wanted to,” South Side coach Jerry D’Angelo said.
The No. 3-seeded Cyclones played a whirlwind fourth quarter, shutting out No. 7 Hewlett for 6 ½ minutes and scoring 16 straight points on their way to a 58-46 victory Wednesday night in a Nassau Class A semifinal played before a crowd of more than 1,500 at Hofstra.
Brandon Grayson scored 17 points with five assists and five rebounds, Dami Awosika had 14 points with nine rebounds and Patrick Basile hit three trifectas and scored 13 points for South Side (17-5), which will face No. 1 Elmont for the county championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra.
Hewlett (17-5) was led by 6-7 center Zach Bromfeld, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
But after Bromfeld put back his own miss and followed with a kick-out pass to Alyjah Hill (nine points) for a three-pointer that gave Hewlett a 37-33 lead with 1:30 left in the third, the bark went out of the Bulldogs. They did not score again until Bromfeld’s layup with 1:31 left in the game. By that time, South side had built a commanding 49-39 lead.
“We did not get frustrated when we weren’t scoring,” said Grayson, who began the game-changing 16-0 run by sinking a jump shot from the left wing which turned into in a three-point play when he was fouled in the act. That cut Hewlett’s lead to 37-36 entering the fourth. “We just raised our energy on defense, kept our composure and stayed positive.”
James Testa opened the final period with a baseline jumper to put the Cyclones ahead for good. Then came the torrent. Awosika made an acrobatic baseline drive and scoop, drawing the foul and converting for a three-point play.
Grayson hit two free throws and Basile nailed a three from the left wing for a 46-37 lead with 6:15 to go. Neither team scored for the next 4:16, but that worked to South Side’s advantage, as the drought shortened the game. Ryan Prendergast scored six of his 11 points from the foul line in the final 1:19, giving South Side and its ball-movement offense four double-figure scorers.
“We don’t have one guy who’s a star,” Grayson said. “So we get the ball moving to get a good look for the best shot.”