The seeds of victory were sown last Friday night. With more than a foot of snow on the ground and all public schools closed, South Shore coach Anwar Gladden found a church gym in Bedford Stuyvesant and scheduled a night practice.
Every single Vikings player showed up and was there by 6:15 p.m.
“That just tells you that this team is ready,” Gladden said.
They left no doubt a day later. No. 4 South Shore routed No. 5 McKee/Staten Island Tech, 56-36, in the PSAL Class AA girls basketball quarterfinals Saturday, Feb. 27 at York College. (The Vikings met top-seeded Murry Bergtraum in a rematch of last year’s city title game this past Tuesday in the semifinals at St. John’s University as this paper went to press.)
“We’re a young team, it’s later in the year,” Gladden said. “We’re playing good when we need to play good.”
The same words can be said about sophomore center Fannisha Price. She led South Shore (18-8) with 16 points and didn’t just dominate inside. The 6-foot-1 Price was able to step out and knock down some mid-range jumpers. Gladden told her last week that her first option is always to shoot – at times she had been too passive this year.
“If [Price] contributes, we could win almost every game,” said Jasmine Odom, who finished with 14 points.
The victory meant a lot to her, too. Last year, the Vikings were led by Baytania Newman and Angel Porter and they had unprecedented success. Odom, now a junior, is a leader on this team.
“It makes me feel like I could do it without Bay Bay and Angel,” she said.
South Shore took full control late in the second quarter. McKee/Staten Island Tech freshman point guard Kelin Walsh left the game with an ankle injury with 2:13 left before halftime and the Vikings promptly went on a 12-3 run, stretching into the third quarter. The lead ballooned to 43-25 on an Odom layup to finish the period.
“All the time, the constant is Kelin,” MSIT coach Peter LaMarca said. “Once she went down, the whole game changes for us.”
The Sea Gulls (24-3) never recovered. Kaitlyn Astel went off for 20 points, but South Shore senior guard Taylor Lloyd held sharpshooter Kristen Markoe in check.
“In my estimation, Taylor Lloyd is the best defensive player in New York City,” Gladden said.
There was some controversy last week about where South Shore stood in terms of PSAL seeding. The Vikings were originally chosen to be in the third spot, but after Francis Lewis, originally No. 4, appealed, South Shore slid down to No. 4 from No. 3. Gladden and his players thought the league should stuck to its original ruling.
“We knew we were the second most talented team in the PSAL,” Gladden said. “We’re No. 2 clearly.”
In his eyes, when South Shore meets Murry Bergtraum on Tuesday, it’ll be a matchup that should be played at Madison Square Garden in the championship game like it was last year.
“It’s us and them,” Gladden said. “No. 1 and No. 2.”