The urgency to win this year isn’t lost on Brianna Fraser and her fellow seniors at South Shore.
The Maryland-bound forward and her classmates have led the South Shore girls’ basketball team to consecutive Public School Athletic League city title games, coming up short both times.
This season marks their last chance to bring the Vikings program its first crown.
The opportunity is there with defending champion Francis Lewis losing center Chelsea Robinson to graduation and Murry Bergtraum potentially taking a step back from its dominance after the resignation of legendary coach Ed Grezinsky. South Shore wants to have its turn to celebrate.
“This is our last chance, so we have to go out with a bang,” Fraser said. “We have to play as hard as we can, so we cannot only make it to the championship, but win the championship.”
The 6-foot-3 Fraser is arguably the city’s best player. She can post a double-double on any night and can handle the ball like a guard even at her size. It’s a weapon most teams in the five boroughs don’t have.
“She is one of the top players in the country,” said South Shore coach Anwar Gladden.
The amiable Fraser sometimes needs a little push to dominate games, and said he needs to stop being tentative at times. She will have plenty of help in the paint from bruising junior forward Jordan Washington, who was a surprise contributor a year ago.
“This team is a little bit smaller,” Fraser said. “We don’t have a lot of big, but we are fast. We are going to try to blow teams out by being faster than them.”
That’s because the team is deeper and more seasoned than last year, especially in the backcourt.
Senior Ashley McDonald, who has improved her ball handling, appears primed for a break out year. Classmate Amanda Cruz brings plenty of speed, and wing Ashley Salkey has shown improvement.
The x-factors could be sophomore guard Valena Hickerson and freshman wing Diamond Shavis. Both play with skills and confidence well beyond their years and can really score the ball.
South Shore believes it has all the ingredients to be a championship team. The seniors are determined to not let them go to waste after having their season ended one win from the crown in the last two years.
“It would mean everything to us,” McDonald said. “We know how it feels to lose, but we want to know how it feels to win the championship.”