It was a startling start, a 15-point outburst to open the game during which Deer Park looked so dominant, it appeared South Side had no chance to make it interesting.
“We must have been thinking the same thing,” Falcons coach John McCaffrey said with a wry smile.
Instead, Deer Park had to withstand a similar run by South Side before finally pulling away for its 11th consecutive victory, 56-47, Saturday in the Nassau-Suffolk Challenge at Uniondale.
“We have to learn to play 32 minutes of solid basketball,” McCaffrey said. “We knocked down three straight threes to start the game and then we fell in love with the three and forgot about playing inside-out.”
De’andre Edwards, Josh Pismeny (16 points, seven rebounds) and Malik Edmead (15 points) hit from downtown on the game’s first three possessions, Keshaun Jones hit a jumper and Edmead and Pismeny turned steals into layups before the Cyclones scored their first point. Two free throws and a pullup jumper from Edmead made it 19-1.
“Early on we were knocking down shots and then we started shooting way too much,” Pismeny acknowledged after the Falcons improved to 11-1.
South Side (4-8) took advantage of Deer Park’s cold snap to go on its own 15-0 run that cut its deficit to 24-20 early in the second quarter. It was no longer a laugher. “We got a little full of ourselves,” said Edmead, a sophomore guard whose brother Aaren was a first-team Newsday All-Long Island selection in 2014 and is now a starting guard at North Carolina A&T. “We were a little lax on defense.”
Ryan O’Shea (11 points, nine rebounds, six blocks, two steals) and James Kesicier (10 points) sparked the Cyclones’ early rally. They fell behind by 14 midway through the third but cut it to 40-33 on a layup by William Speechley. They got no closer, as Pismeny took over in the fourth quarter. The senior forward scored on a three-pointer and a breakaway layup and grabbed a couple of important defensive rebounds.
“I love getting put in that position,” said Pismeny, who has expanded his game to include more three-point range and some moves off the dribble. “We got a little lazy on defense for a while but I never doubted we would win.”
It was the Falcons’ fifth game in eight days, but Edmead was hardly complaining. “Games are way more fun than practice,” he said with a huge grin.