Turnovers, missed free throws, and costly calls from the referees all contributed in the top-seeded Vikings’ 65–58 loss to No. 3 Francis Lewis in the Public School Athletic League Class AA girls’ basketball title game on Saturday afternoon at the Barclays Center.
This was the second-straight season South Shore lost in the city championship, and the fourth time in the last six seasons.
South Shore coach Anwar Gladden said he saw a trend in the officiating against his team in the big game.
“Today Francis Lewis beat us, but it makes it tough for these young ladies. It’s not fair to them. It puts me in a position to say, ‘Are they doing it to me or are they doing it to the girls?’ It’s disappointing.”
One such call came after a missed free throw in the closing minutes when on a ball seemed to Gladden to have deflected out of bounds off a Lewis player, but officials gave the ball to the Patriots.
Another key call was on an out-of-bounds ruling against the Vikings on a fast break up the sideline when South Shore was down 58–51 with 44 seconds left in the game.
Gladden made it clear, though, that Francis Lewis was the better team and deserved to win. His team failed to execute in key areas. The Vikings shot just 29.5 percent from the field, missed 14 free throws and committed 19 turnovers that led to 17 points for Francis Lewis.
Sierra Green led the Patriots in scoring with 21 points, including six three-pointers.
South Shore had struggled throughout the season at the line, Gladden said, but the high number of turnovers left him wondering what could have happened. Francis Lewis ran a press defense throughout the game that gave the Vikings fits. The Patriots closed the first half on a 10–2 run to take a 27–18 lead into the half.
“We work on the press all season long,” Gladden said. “It was our Achilles heel to start the season. I was surprised we turned it over 19 times.”
Gladden didn’t take issue with Francis Lewis center Chelsea Robinson being able to play. She transferred into Lewis in January. Robinson, who had six points Saturday, was cleared by the league right before the playoffs despite playing for the Taft School (Conn.) earlier this season, which is against league eligibility rules. The league cited extenuating circumstances.
“Let her play,” Gladden said. “She’s not [Michael] Jordan.”
Although it was a tough loss, the South Shore was quick to reflect on what was a very positive season.
“It was hard for me because it’s my last year, but we played hard throughout the whole season,” said senior guard Emmeri Archer, who scored 11 points in her final high school game.
Maryland-bound junior Brianna Fraser led all scorers with 26 points, and added 15 rebounds and four blocks. Another loss in the finals has her ready to come back and fight for the championship that she has been so close to twice now.
“We’re always hungry,” Fraser said. “Even if we would have won we still would have been hungry for another championship.”