No borough in New York City had a greater depth of girls basketball talent – in players and teams – than Brooklyn. The story of the season was the emergence of Bishop Ford not only as a city powerhouse but a team that made some waves on the national level, beating both Christ the King and St. Michael Academy in the same year.
In the PSAL, South Shore sustained its place among the city’s elite by making the PSAL Class AA semifinals a year after its first appearance in the title game. Midwood and Thomas Jefferson were also quarterfinal teams, while Medgar Evers won the ‘A’ title and Goldstein took home the ‘B.’
All-Brooklyn girls basketball Player of the Year: Alicia Cropper, Thomas Jefferson
When Alicia Cropper came off the court, she usually left superlatives in her wake. St. Peter’s coach Bob Daggett called her “amazing.” South Kingstown (R.I.) coach Joel Tuoni said she was “phenomenal.” Some even called her the best player in New York City.
The Providence-bound guard usually put up eye-popping scoring numbers and did a fine job getting her teammates involved. Cropper all but carried young, undermanned Jefferson on her back to the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals – in the second round against Lincoln she dropped 44 points. In the quarters, she scored 30 points on eventual city champion Murry Bergtraum.
“She’s the real deal,” Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky said. “And we were double-teaming her. You give her an inch and she’ll knock down the shot.”
Cropper was not named a McDonald’s All-American, she didn’t earn any national accolades. But those who played against her know: She’s a force to be reckoned with.
All-Brooklyn girls basketball Coach of the Year: Mike Toro, Bishop Ford
In his first year, Mike Toro changed the way Bishop Ford girls basketball was perceived throughout New York City.
The 22-year-old coach turned the Falcons from an also-ran in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens to a squad knocking off national-level teams and challenging for a CHSAA Class AA state title. Under Toro’s guidance the Falcons went 21-6 and finished second in their division. Ford collected its first-ever victories over eventually state Federation Class AA champion Christ the King and nationally ranked St. Michael Academy, which they nearly beat again in the CHSAA state semifinals.
“They definitely proved they can play with any team in the city,” Toro said of his team.
Toro pushed his kids to play to their potential and his team was almost never ill prepared and or unmotivated to play a big game. If you were going to beat Ford, you did it at its best. He repeatedly called this season only the “warning year” expecting only more success to come.
“The future is definitely bright,” Toro said. “You gotta look at us as a team to watch.”
ALL-BROOKLYN FIRST TEAM
G Shayra Brown, Bishop Ford
The Boston College-bound guard cemented herself as one of the city’s elite players. No one made bigger plays down the stretch for Ford, especially in wins over St. Michael Academy and Christ the King, than the athletic Brown.
F Vanessa D’Ambrosi, Bishop Ford
Ford wouldn’t have been a CHSAA Class AA state semifinalist without the St. Anselm-bound guard. D’Ambrosi hit key 3-pointers all season, including six in a 51-46 win over Kellenberg in the state quarterfinals.
F Francess Henry, Midwood
When Midwood needed a big 3-pointer, Henry was always there. The athletic junior had a breakout season and is on her way to becoming one of the elite players in the PSAL.
G Jasmine Odom, South Shore
At times, Odom had to put South Shore on her back with her scoring ability. But the junior was at her absolute best when she was getting her teammates involved. The Vikings don’t make the PSAL Class AA semis without her.
F Sam Retas, Bishop Kearney
The emerging junior put herself on the city map with a breakout season, often carrying the Tigers on her back. Retas consistently scored 20-plus points and had a 42-point performance in a loss to Bishop Ford.
ALL-BROOKLYN SECOND TEAM
G Diani Mason, Bishop Ford
Mason came of age by season’s end and became one of the Falcons’ go-to scorers. The junior dropped in 34 points in a win over Mary Louis. Coach Mike Toro repeatedly said it is her team next year.
G Danielle Pearson, Thomas Jefferson
Her chemistry with teammate Alicia Cropper was uncanny — it always seemed like one knew where the other is. That’s good news for Providence, where both will play next year.
G Jasmin Robinson, Medgar Evers
She might have led Medgar Evers to the PSAL Class A championship, but Robinson could have played on any ‘AA’ team in New York City. The powerful, lightning-quick point guard made better decisions this year and it helped earn her a scholarship to St. Francis College.
F Jewel Tunstull, Midwood
Early in the season, the 6-foot-3 transfer from Virginia had to not only adjust to the style of play in New York City, but also play through pain with a hip injury. All in all, the Northeastern-bound center had a fine year, utilizing her skill inside offensively and her shot-blocking prowess on defense.
G Shanice Vaughan, Bishop Ford
In her first varsity season the sophomore was one of the best breakdown guards in the city. A knee injury slowed her down early in the seaon, but 20-point nights were a regularity.
ALL-BROOKLYN THIRD TEAM
F Beranda Felder, Midwood
Beast. There’s no better way to describe the 5-foot-10 ball of muscle. Felder was Midwood’s unsung hero, fighting for — and usually getting — every rebound.
G Taylor Lloyd, South Shore
Lloyd’s assignment every game was simple yet imposing: guard the other team’s best offensive player. More times than not, the athletic, strong senior guard came through.
G Gisell Peguero, Midwood
Midwood wasn’t a team rife with spectacular guards, which made Peguero’s job more difficult. She was the Hornets’ most reliable ballhandler and steadying force in their run to an ninth straight PSAL quarterfinals berth.
F Fannisha Price, South Shore
Price will be the first person to tell you that she didn’t have a great start to the season. But when South Shore was playing some of its best ball late, the 6-foot-3 sophomore with the bright future was a big reason why.
F Taylor Raccuglia, Bishop Kearney
The fiesty junior forward made a big impact for Kearney this season. Raccuglia was a force on the glass and the offensive help for star Sam Retas for most of the year.
All-Brooklyn honorable mention
G Aliyah Alston, Bishop Loughlin
G Alexcia Barnes, Banneker
F Adanna David, Boys & Girls
G Katie Friel, Poly Prep
G Katie Henderson, Fontbonne Hall
F Cherkira Lashley, Poly Prep
G Brittany McDonough, Goldstein
F Nandi Pyle, Medgar Evers