Despite holding the top-seeded North Shore Lady Vikings to their lowest point total in more than three years, the South Side Lady Cyclones couldn't pull out an upset for the record books.
No. 8 South Side fell on the road by a final score of 44-33 Wednesday evening in a Nassau Class A quarterfinal that was overshadowed by three second-quarter ejections after a small fight broke out on the court.
Fresh off a 14-point effort against Manhasset on Saturday, junior Juliana Pelligrini led South Side in scoring for the second consecutive game with nine points Wednesday. Senior Bridget Kiernan collected six points and six blocked shots in her final game as a Lady Cyclone.
After a 3-3 start to the game, the North Shore run-and-gun offense got into gear and went on an 11-0 tear to finish the first quarter. The Lady Vikings defense forced several turnovers and never let South Side get comfortable with the ball on offense.
"They did what their defense is supposed to do: made us uncomfortable, made us take shots we didn't want," South Side head coach Katelyn Dunn said. "I just don't think we moved the ball as well as we could. We practiced it a ton. The girls knew exactly what they were going to see, but at the end of the day you have to put the ball in the basket."
The Lady Cyclones started the second quarter on a 3-0 run, but North Shore answered with another 11-0 run and opened up a 25-6 lead.
With 39 seconds to go in the half and the score sitting at 31-9, a melee broke out between South Side junior Jessica Hawley and North Shore's Alexandra Cantwell and Caroline Robertson. After a 10-minute delay, all three players were ejected and the game continued with the Lady Cyclones down 33-13 at the half.
"I'm very proud of the way they are. At least sportsmanship-wise, my kids made sure they stayed out of any nonsense, which is important after something like that," Dunn said of her team's reaction after the skirmish. "Composure needed to be kept."
After being outscored 9-4 in the third quarter, the Lady Cyclones mounted a comeback attempt in the final frame. South Side outscored the Lady Vikings 16-2 in the fourth quarter -- including a 13-0 run to finish the game -- but fell short of the upset.
"I'm proud that they came back and never wanted to give up," Dunn said. "In the fourth quarter you saw my captain Bridget Kiernan ready to fight, she didn't want to give up. This is her senior year and she doesn't want to stop."
"I'm proud of my kids, but I wish we could have completed something a little more on the offensive boards," she added. "But it happens."