BROOKLYN, NY - When the conversation is about which High School basketball teams are capable of winning the PSAL city title comes up, you always hear about NYCHoops.net #1 ranked Lincoln and #3 ranked Boys & Girls.
Other times you might hear that #9 ranked South Shore has a lot of talent, but something was missing. People aren't sure they can actually win the championship.
However, after Boys & Girls left the South Shore floor on the wrong side of the score at the end of yesterday's game, maybe more people will begin to believe that they can.
From the very beginning, South Shore appeared to have a lot of confidence. They were at home, and they were strengthened by their two losses to good teams last week. They knew that they would have to play hard and they accomplished that against the two time defending champs.
Mike Beckles, South Shore's head coach explained why his team's 61-58 victory was a big one.
"This win was important for us. We lost two big games in the league which I know we were capable of winning, and we showed that we can play with the better teams today" Beckles said.
Because of losses to Jefferson and then Lincoln, Beckles knew his team would have to play better and with more intensity. Shamiek Sheppard, a 6-4 junior wing echoed his coach and said that the Vikings picked up the defensive pressure and played hard and that enabled them to beat Boys.
The game was a good one and close throughout. Neither team led by more than six points, and that was late in the first quarter after Sheppard went up strong inside and put the Vikings up 18-12.
The game was a nice little showcase for Sheppard and Boys & Girls Leroy Fludd in the first half. Sheppard had scored 10 points in the half, while Fludd led all scorers with 14. Boys held a 31-30 lead at the break. When the third quarter began, that was when Terrence Samuel came to life.
Samuel didn't have a very good first half. He was turning the ball over a lot; sometimes he struggled with his dribble and just gave it up with no pressure a couple of times. He said he couldn't see the lane in the first half, but things opened up in the second and he started to be more aggressive and just took it.
He started with a pass to Sheppard who promptly dunked it. After Joel Angus picked up his third foul on a charge call and had to sit down, Samuel knocked down a baseline jumper and that was the start of him scoring 8 points in the quarter. A pull-up jumper by the 6-4 junior guard at the left elbow put South Shore up 42-38.
The fourth quarter was played just as tightly as the first three. The game was tied at 52 with just over 2 minutes left in the game when Sheppard, who finished with 17 points, split a pair of free throws to give South Shore a one point lead. Fludd answered with a put back to give his team the lead with 1:40 left, but South Shore knocked down 8 straight free throws to keep the lead and come away with the win. Sheppard, who sometimes struggles at the line, was swishing them from the charity stripe at the end.
"Going to the free throw line we got to have confidence. You just got to know you going to make it" Sheppard said.
It was a good win for South Shore, one they believe is a statement. They were excited after the game because they showed that they can play with the best. Samuel, who scored a team high 18 points, was asked how he feels when people talk about Lincoln and Boys and don't mention South Shore.
"I never really listen" Samuel said after coming out of the locker room. "We know we can beat them as long as we play our game. We're going to earn our respect sooner or later"
Boys High was previously undefeated, but after the loss their record is 6-1. Head coach Ruth Lovelace said that the defense is normally there for them if they are struggling to score, but it wasn't as trustworthy against South Shore. She also felt her team got outrebounded.
"We just didn't do some things that we had to do" when asked why her team lost the game. Lovelace did try to find a silver lining in the defeat. "You rather lose now, because in the end it's probably better to lose early".
Fludd would finish with a game high 31 points. He was basically the only Kangaroo who was able to score consistently. Was it part of the game plan to let him score and shut down everybody else?
The common answer was no, South Shore definitely tried to stop Fludd too. It didn't really work out that way because he is good. He is showing that he is one of the best players in the city.
But the team that was the best, even if it's just for this game, was South Shore. In their minds, they need to continue to play hard. If they do that, they can come away with the title. South Shore players truly believe that.