It all felt like it was slipping through their fingers.
South Shore’s girls basketball team couldn’t hold on to a late-game lead on Jan. 29, falling 57–52 to Baldwin at the Mecca Challenge in the Bronx. The Lady Vikings led by nine points with 6:43 left on the clock, but the squad was plagued by late miscues and missed opportunities down the stretch — a trend that is becoming far too prevalent.
“There’s no medium. Either we’re going to be ready to play or we’re not,” South Shore coach Anwar Gladden said. “Every game we’ve lost, we’re up double digits in the course of the game. We’ve just got to be able to finish teams off.”
South Shore (18–3) was inconsistent on offense from the get-go, playing much of the first half without senior star Selena Philoxy.
The Seton Hall-bound forward was whistled for her second foul midway through the first quarter and picked up her third with a little more than two minutes left in the second.
Philoxy’s absence on the court left a big-time hole in the Lady Vikings’ game plan — particularly on the boards. She hauled in just four rebounds and struggled to get position on the block, unable to use her height to her advantage against Baldwin’s defenders.
“I thought Sarah Henry did a phenomenal job on her today,” said Baldwin coach Tom Catapano. “[Selena] is a tremendous player and we have tremendous respect for her, but Sarah did a great job on her all night.”
South Shore went into the break facing a two-point deficit, but grabbed back a bit of momentum in the third quarter, sparked by the strong play of forward Earlette Scott.
The junior did a bit of everything for the Lady Vikings, playing the point, directing the offense and, most importantly, driving the lane.
“I was just trying to penetrate because I was taller than most of the girls on their team,” said Scott, who finished with a team-high 18 points. “So I was just trying to get to the basket and that was working well for me.”
Scott’s solo effort wasn’t quite enough, however, as South Shore struggled to maintain its rhythm.
Baldwin rallied late, thanks in large part to the dominant play of Aziah Hudson. The junior scored from just about everywhere on the court, finishing with a game-high 29 points and tying the game at 49 with 2:29 left.
Scott drained the Lady Vikings’ last field goal of the night, making it a 51–51 game with 55 seconds left, but South Shore scored one more point on the night.
“We were up eight points and we were missing layups,” Gladden said. “We’d go up to the line and miss both free throws. It was terrible all around.”
It was a disappointing loss for the Lady Vikings, but there was a silver lining. South Shore walked off the court more determined than ever to wrap up games in the fourth quarter. After all, this team has its sights set on a championship and it will need to play a complete 32 minutes to do that.
“We want to be city champions, state champions and games like these helps us learn how to close out,” Scott said. “I’m just glad it happened now and not playoff time.”