Multi-dimensional Vikings start season off right

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South Shore went to the PSAL Class AA city title game at Madison Square Garden and in its season opener last week, showed the potential to do just that again %u2013 especially on the offensive end.

Does that mean these Vikings are better than the 2008-09 version? Well, better is a relative word.

“There’s more skill on this team,” South Shore coach Anwar Gladden said. “That team was older and had more will.”

As the season wears on, Gladden will find out about the current squad’s will. For now, South Shore will just enjoy its 70-44 home win against Midwood in PSAL Brooklyn AA Group 1 girls basketball.

And there was plenty to like, even considering that Midwood’s Northeastern-bound center Jewel Tunstull sat out with an injured hip. South Shore (1-0) is more diverse on offense and has more weapons.

“They’re different,” Midwood coach Artie LaGreca said. “They have more options now.”

Most of them are young, too. In her first varsity game, freshman Aliyah Cooley, a 6-foot wing, had 13 points and showed a sweet shooting stroke. She had three 3-pointers and all of her points came from the perimeter.

“I was excited,” she said. “I was ready for this game. Hard work pays off.”

It was clear how hard Taylor Lloyd has worked. The athletic, 5-foot-7 guard was a defensive stopper last year, neutralizing opposing teams’ best perimeter player. Lloyd is that again this year, but her offensive game has drastically improved. She had 12 points, knocked down a pair of mid-range jumpers and broke down her defender off the dribble in the open court for an easy layup late in the third quarter.

“I gotta step up,” Lloyd said. “I felt the pressure since the first day [Gladden] named me a captain.”

Lloyd didn’t have to score with guards Baytania Newman and Angel Porter leading the way last year. But she knew her offensive game had to evolve, so she worked out at the park all summer, taking 200 jump shots at a clip. Gladden has repeatedly said in the preseason that if Lloyd is successful, South Shore will be too.

“Her game is getting better and better,” Gladden said. “She puts in that time.”

South Shore took control over Midwood (0-1) late in the first half, led by junior star Jasmine Odom. She had six points, including a personal 5-0 run, in the Vikings’ 17-2 run that Shelby Powell capped with a basket with 4:20 left in the third quarter to make it 47-23.

Odom, the team’s leading returning scorer, finished with 10 points and didn’t dominate by any means. LaGreca admitted that the goal was to take her out of the equation. Gladden had a warning to other coaches with the same idea.

“It’s not a one-man show,” he said. “We’re too deep for that. Teams can’t do that.”

Fannisha Price, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward, had 10 points and dominated on the glass. Powell and fellow sophomore Jenice Winter also showed flashes of excellence. Another sophomore, Radasha Pope, is tiny, but fearless. Gladden gave her Newman’s jersey number %u2013 12.

“She’s the only kid I’d let wear Bay Bay’s number,” he said.

South Shore obviously has a ton of talent. But does that make the Vikings better than they were a year ago? Gladden doesn’t know yet. He’ll find out soon enough.

“This team is young and fragile,” Gladden said. “Last year’s team had will and heart. You can’t teach that.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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