Brianna Fraser and the Vikings have a big week ahead of them.
South Shore’s city-champion girls’ basketball team plays in the state Federation Class AA tournament this weekend in Albany, then Fraser and coach Anwar Gladden will hop a plane to Chicago, where she is set to play in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American game on April 1 at the United Center. And then on April 3, South Shore is scheduled to play in the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals Tournament back in the city.
“It’s going to be tough,” Gladden said of the hectic week.
South Shore takes on Catholic league champion Christ the King at 1 pm on March 27 in the Federation semifinals as the team drives for its first state title. A victory would put the Vikings in Saturday night’s final at 7 pm against the winner Ossining-Long Island Lutheran semifinal matchup.
Fraser wants to head to Chicago with something to boast about and motivate herself with.
“If we win states, I think that will make me hungrier to try to get the MVP for the All-American game,” Fraser said.
Gladden said it has been tough to keep the team focused during the two-week layoff since South Shore beat Grand Street for the program’s first-ever city title. But the Vikings never lost sight of the importance of winning the state tournament as well. The players mentioned it to Gladden even before they won the city final, which only ratcheted-up the pressure to go further.
“That was one goal that we accomplished,” said senior guard Ashley McDonald. “We have plenty more to accomplish. We are still working hard to get this state championship. That’s the next step.”
Another matchup with the Royals (20–7) will prove to be motivation enough. Christ the King was the last team to beat the Vikings, 66–53, all the way back on Jan. 11 in Middle Village. South Shore (23–4) has won 12 games straight since then, but its senior class has never beaten Christ the King in four tries. The team feels it needs to play better defense in the paint against the Royals’ slashing guards. Gladden believes his squad just needs to do a better job closing the game out after letting a close contest get away in January. Eihter way, the Vikings players are eager to take on the Royals again.
“We are ready to play them,” said senior guard Amanda Cruz. “We are looking forward to this game. I have a lot of confidence in my team. I feel we can do it. We can pull it out this time.”
Fraser is playing at the All-American level in the post season. She is averaging 16.3 points and 11.6 rebounds, and scored 27 points in a semifinal victory over Francis Lewis.
The Maryland-bound forward has received plenty of help in key moments from Cruz and McDonald. Underclassmen Destiny Philoxy, Valena Hickerson, and junior forward Jordan Washington have also made important contributions.
“The underclassmen really match the intensity of the upperclassman,” Gladden said.
South Shore is going to need to keep the energy high for two more weeks. No matter what happens in the state tournament, the team is set to play in the Dick’s Nationals Tournament at Christ the King on April 3. South Shore hopes to be adding one final piece of hardware then.
“That is like the cherry on top,” McDonald said. “We got the city. We need the states, and then the nationals.”