They’re hoping it’s worth the wait.
The South Shore girls basketball team hasn’t played an actual game since Feb. 3, but the two-time reigning city champs aren’t worried about the layoff. In fact, the Lady Vikings squad has used the time off to fine tune its collective game and, most importantly, prepare for another title run, starting March 5 in the ‘AA’ quarterfinals.
“We had 13 games in January, so we could use the days off,” said South Shore coach Anwar Gladden. “This is how it’s been, so it’s nothing we’re not used to.”
The Lady Vikings have played a handful of scrimmages over the last few weeks, taking on other teams also waiting for their playoff moment. It’s not quite the same as game experience, but it’s enough to keep his players focused, the coach said.
“I scrimmage the ‘A’ teams because I want them to feel like they can move up to the ‘AA’ to get competitive,” Gladden said. “Plus, those teams get up for us. When you’re the one seed and you scrimmage teams, you want them to get up for you. They’re preparing us for what the game will be like.”
There aren’t many drills South Shore can run through that don’t seem a bit redundant at this point in the season, so the Lady Vikings squads have spent most of the time off competing against each other — and enjoying it.
We challenge each other and try and make each other better,” said senior guard Valena Hickerson. “I always enjoy playing amongst each other and scrimmaging each other the best. You see the growth of the team and what we’re trying to do.”
South Shore hasn’t been particularly challenged in league play this season, rolling to an undefeated record in the Public Schools Athletic League. The team’s closest game was an 18-point victory over Medger Evers on Jan. 17.
Given their success so far, it might appear that South Shore assumes it will sweep to a third straight city title. But while the squad is confident, it’s far from cocky.
“We knew coming in what this season was going to be like and what we wanted,” said junior point guard Destiny Philoxy. “Our coaching staff is with us through the whole thing, so when we’re down or not focused they remind us of the easy way out. We have to lift each other up.”
South Shore is convinced that the month-long wait for postseason play is simply the result of their consistent success, and they’re determined to keep it that way.
“It all just comes with the growth of winning,” Gladden said. “We just got the experience. We got to bring more of that in and our confidence in the PSAL is pretty high.”