John Pericolosi of South Side drains a shot during a Nassau...

John Pericolosi of South Side drains a shot during a Nassau Class AA semifinal against Roslyn at at Farmingdale State College on Tuesday. Credit: James Escher

South Side brought back just two players from its Class A state final four team who had extensive varsity minutes behind them. Coach Jerry D’Angelo knew that people were writing off his team.

But look at the story the Cyclones have written so far. They claimed a share of their conference title, have won 20 of their 23 games overall and are now in the Nassau AA boys basketball championship game.

Second-seeded South Side put forth a balanced offense and played tough-to-beat defense in defeating No. 3 Roslyn, 50-39, in the semifinals Tuesday night at Farmingdale State College.

“I think we adjust our expectations as we go along,” D’Angelo said about the trajectory of the Cyclones. “The team started to progress.

“I have young kids, sophomores (John Pericolosi and Ryan Schmitt) who are playing significant minutes. Their development has been phenomenal this year. You can’t predict that in October when you have two 10th-graders going up to varsity who played JV last year.”

“As we go along, we set ourselves goals,” D’Angelo added.

That goal now will be to beat fifth-seeded Elmont (19-4) in the final at 3:30 Saturday back at Farmingdale State.

“They’re very good,” D’Angelo said. “They’ve got everything. They’ve got size. They’ve got strength, speed. They’ve got a shooter in Cassius Moore, who might be the best player on the floor. We’ve got to play our best. We’ve got to play an ‘A’ game to be competitive with them. But I like our fight.”

Roslyn, meanwhile, took a massive step forward under coach Greg Tull. The Bulldogs didn’t make the playoffs last season. They finished this one at 18-4.

“Fantastic,” Tull said. “These boys played their tails off from Day One. They committed to the offseason program. We were able to have a nice turnaround. The job is just getting started for a lot of these young Bulldogs.”

Pericolosi, a 6-foot guard whose brother, Robert, was a second-team All-Long Island forward as a senior last season, topped South Side with 11 points and Schmitt added 10. Mason Goodstadt scored 13, Jake Kenyon added 12 and Zach Kuppersmith had 10 for Roslyn.

The Cyclones were up just 20-18 at the break, then came out and started to take charge. Pericolosi made two free throws, a layup and a three from straightaway to help power a 12-2, quarter-opening run, making it a 12-point game.

“We got out in transition,” Pericolosi said.

But the Bulldogs scored the next eight points. The lead was down to 32-28. Francis Sweeney countered with a three from the right side just before the quarter expired. So it was a seven-point Cyclones lead.

Then came a 6-1 South Side burst to start the fourth. Matt DeSena capped it with a layup for a 41-29 advantage with 5:26 left. Roslyn couldn’t reduce the deficit to below eight from there.

“I think we did a good job with both our defenses, man and zone,” D’Angelo said. “… And I thought we rebounded well.”

On to Elmont.

“The job’s not finished,” Pericolosi said. “… The team is very confident.”

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