In what was a see-saw battle filled with offensive runs and clutch shooting, the Hewlett Bulldogs missed 11 free throws against South Side in their Class A semifinal playoff matchup on Tuesday and were defeated by the Cyclones, 57-46.
South Side will play Jericho in the Nassau County Class A final on Saturday at 2 p.m at Hofstra University.
With the Cyclones up 45-40 in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs in the midst of an 8-2 run, South Side senior guard DJ Nickelson took a charge on a driving Harrison Brenner. The offensive foul quelled Hewlett's run, and the Cyclones knocked down 10 of 12 free throws in the game's closing minutes to finish off the Bulldogs.
When asked what he would say to his team after the loss, Hewlett Head Coach Bill Dubin frankly said, "Make free throws."
Hewlett fell behind early in the first half, but put together a 13-2 run spanning the second and third quarters to pull within two of the Cyclones at 28-26. Weldon Irvine (19 points) and Avery Feldman (9 points) led the charge for Hewlett, but that was as close as they would get. South Side ended the third quarter on a 9-4 run and extended its lead to 37-30.
When South Side looked to be putting the game away in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs responded with an 8-2 run to get within five points at 45-40. An offensive foul on Brenner ended the run, and South Side knocked down its free throws to end the game. The Bulldogs played great defense in the loss, forcing 15 turnovers and out-rebounding South Side, 23-16.
For South Side, it was a team win filled with clutch shooting and great defense. Four of the team's five starters combined for 55 of South Side's 57 points. Ryan Spadaford finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds; Darren Nickelson had 16 points, 6 assists and 4 steals; Kevin Coyle had 11 points and Robert Piccione finished with 10 points.