The South Shore Vikings will be headed to the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) finals for the fourth time in seven years after they beat the Midwood Hornets 52-25 at Lehman College in the Bronx on Tuesday night. However, it will be the first time that Anwar Gladden‘s team will not face Murry Bergtraum, a team that has won 15 consecutive PSAL titles, after it lost to Francis Lewis in its semifinals matchup.
“It hasn’t set in yet,” Gladden said of Bergtraum not qualifying for the finals for the first time since 1998. “I’m just happy for us that we’re going to the Barclays. They had a great run, though. That’s legendary and they’ll be back. (Ed Grezinsky) is a good coach, a tough coach, he’s not done yet.”
Led by Brianna Fraser, the Vikings played a dominant game over Midwood on Tuesday as she scored 16 points and commanded both ends of the court well. Teanna Henderson also helped out up front with eight points and Valena Hickerson controlled the backcourt and pitched in with 12 points.
“When Brianna comes to play, like she did today, it’s tough,” Gladden said. “She’s tough for teams to matchup against. She’s 6-foot-3 and athletic and active. She played well today, she wanted it.”
Midwood played strong in the first quarter and trailed by just three points after Chanice Battle scored in the final seconds of the frame. Fraser began to take the game over in the second quarter as South Shore pulled out ahead by nine points going into halftime.
Midwood was held to just one field goal in the second quarter as South Shore’s tough defense seemed to have a demoralizing effect on the girls. “Once you get to a point where you get down it’s hard to keep young people inspired and motivated. I saw that we were losing them and they continued to get frustrated until it spiraled out of control,” Midwood coach Michael Moore said.
Despite the fact that this is going to be South Shore’s fourth trip to the PSAL finals in seven years it will be the first time they have reached the finals in back-to-back years during that run. Gladden feels that having been to the championships just last year will go a long way in helping his team because the experience is fresher and he thinks that it will make his players hungrier.
“My four years being here it was always on and off,” Henderson said. “One year we would go and one year we would lose in the quarter finals. Finally we have gotten over the hump. We know what it takes now, though. We’ve been through the pain and the hurt of losing last year so we know what it takes going back.”
This also gives the Vikings a shot at revenge. They finished this year 13-1 with their lone loss coming during the first game of the season against their next opponent — Francis Lewis.
“I knew it was a tough game going in having to play at Francis Lewis our first game of the season,” Gladden recalled. “We went down big, we fought back, we missed 20 foul shots, Fraser had 29 points, we were up late and eventually lost in overtime. It was just a back and forth game. We’re not that same team and I’m sure Francis Lewis is not that same team as well.”
“We remember that game,” Fraser added. “We remember a lot. We were talking about it a lot when we were watching them play. I think the most important thing is to come out and play hard.”
No matter what happens this will be the first time in 16 years that there will be a PSAL champion besides Bergtraum.
“They won 15 times in a row so we just expected that they would be in the finals,” Fraser said. “I’m feeling the same though. I think we need to go out there and play hard because we lost to Francis Lewis in the beginning so I think that this will be a big game for us.”