Winning was going to be hard enough for Team Prince in the West 4th high-school division girls’ championship. Key guards Baytania Newman and Angel Porter, both South Shore HS alums, could not attend the game, held last Sunday afternoon, because they were headed to Central Arizona College to start classes.
Falling behind by 25 points to the Lady X-Men as late as the third quarter certainly didn’t help matters.
“We came out flat,” Team Prince guard Alicia Cropper said.
She made sure that didn’t continue.
The Thomas Jefferson rising senior dropped in 26 points to lead Team Prince to a huge comeback and the West 4th championship. It was Cropper’s second straight title at The Cage %u2013 she won there last year with the Douglass Panthers. This time, she took home the title game’s most valuable player award.
“I think she’s going to be the MVP in the PSAL,” Team Prince coach Anwar Gladden said. “By the end of the season, she might be the best player in New York City.”
Team Prince also got a big lift from a late arriving Starr Breedlove. The Bronx native and Paterson (N.J.) Catholic rising junior didn’t make it to the game until halftime, but contributed 17 second-half points in the victory.
Aliyah Cooley, who will be a freshman on Gladden’s South Shore HS girls’ basketball team this season, also chipped in. The 5-foot-11 guard is a blue-chipper, the coach said, and playing at legendary West 4th %u2013 it was her first time competing in the league %u2013 could do wonders.
“Playing in that atmosphere, that’s gonna help her confidence and experience,” Gladden said.
Cropper’s presence as a mentor hasn’t hurt, either. The Brooklyn native is ranked No. 26 in the Class of 2010 by ESPN HoopGurlz %u2013 the highest New York City player on the list. She enjoyed a breakout season with the Exodus Elite travel team.
“Playing with Alicia Cropper helps everyone,” Gladden said. “She’s like another coach out there on the court.”
Cropper will turn her focus to the school season with the Orange Wave now. Jefferson, with Cropper leading the way, is certainly a PSAL Class AA city title candidate.
“I think I’ve improved [this summer],” she said. “By the end of my senior year, I hope to improve even more.”