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Brooklyn girls’ hoops notebook: Odom growing up

Jasmine Odom is only a sophomore on the South Shore girls’ basketball team, but she’s already receiving interest from the likes of St. John’s, Kentucky and Alabama. Coach Anwar Gladden has had coaches from Seton Hall, Providence and Louisville ask about her, too.

“It’s so many,” he said. “She gets letters every day.”

The 5-foot-8 guard is so smooth and so naturally talented on offense that a ton of suitors are already lining up.

“That’s not the problem,” Gladden said.

In other words, the coach said, Odom is fine on the court. There aren’t many 10th graders – or 11th and 12th graders for that matter – better. But she does have some growing up to do off it. Earlier this season, she missed three games, against Lincoln, August Martin and Kearney, due to undisclosed disciplinary reasons.

Gladden and South Shore officials both agreed to that punishment. There have been other cases when Gladden hasn’t started Odom or has sat her for a half, as well.

“It’s a maturity thing with her,” the coach said.

There are a lot of expectations put on Odom, Gladden said, and some come from him. He calls her “the one.” Senior guards Angel Porter and Baytania Newman are the leaders of his team and both have Division I talent. But neither have the academics to play on that level next year and instead will probably have to go the junior-college route.

“Both are on par to graduate and will be in college next year,” Gladden said. “And from where they come from, getting to go to college is an amazing thing.”

He just doesn’t want the same thing to happen to Odom, who has a 3.0 GPA right now.

“I think Odom can be one of the best when all is said and done,” Gladden said. “We always talk about the two Cs: college and championships.

Pandas bearing improvement: This certainly isn’t the same St. Saviour squad that won the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division II championship last season. The Pandas lost all five starters to graduation, have a new coach in Jim Gregson and are relying on a star sophomore: Alyson Cuazzo.

Things weren’t easy at the beginning, but Saviour has rounded into shape. With a win against Stella Maris on the road Saturday, the Pandas are now 7-4 in league play and jockeying for position with Stella for the No. 2 spot in the division behind St. John’s Prep.

Cuazzo, a 6-foot prospect, had 25 points in that game and senior point guard Stephanie Hvala had 18.

“It takes awhile,” Gregson said. “There’s nothing like being out there. It’s not the same as doing things in practice.”

St. Saviour has another big-time match-up against Stella Maris on Monday in Brooklyn. A win, on Senior Night, no less, would put the Pandas in the driver’s seat with the Dolphins, Bishop Loughlin and Fontbonne Hall all fighting for the top spots in the division.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Gregson said about the game.

The first four teams in Brooklyn/Queens Division II make the CHSAA Class B state tournament with a chance to go upstate to Glens Falls for the state Federation tournament on the line.

Although Cuazzo is the leading scorer, Hvala has been the leader St. Saviour has needed. It’s her first season starting, but she has come up big when the Pandas need her most, Gregson says.

“Everything that happens, she’s in the middle of it,” the coach said. “Everything positive we do, she’s right there.”

There’s been a lot of that positive since the midway point of the season. The stretch run starts Monday for St. Saviour.

“We’re jelling at the right time,” said Gregson, who coached almost all of his current players on the JV team. “That’s what you want.”

Notes: Secondary School of Law, Journalism and Research used to be a superpower in the 1980s and 1990s when it was known as John Jay HS. Coach John LoSasso, now the head coach at Bishop Ford, led the team to five trips to the city championship game at the Garden. With a new name, SSLJR is re-emerging. The Spirits have a 13-2 record in PSAL Brooklyn B North. Senior Taylor Jordan leads the city with 26.6 rebounds per game. … Junior guard Williesha Spencer is second in the PSAL in scoring (31.1 points per game) and has led Harry Van Arsdale to a 14-1 record in Brooklyn B North. … Medgar Evers is cruising along with a 14-0 record in PSAL Brooklyn A. Jasmin Robinson, a dynamic junior point guard who could play on any level, is averaging 26.9 points and eight rebounds per game. … Denis Nolan, formerly of Bishop Ford, has done a yeoman’s job in his first year coaching Lincoln. The Railsplitters are 6-6 in PSAL Brooklyn AA Group 1 with a roster of five juniors, four freshmen and one sophomore. … James Madison is having a tough time – the Knights are 4-8 in PSAL Brooklyn AA Group 1 – but lanky, 5-foot-9 junior Jamecia Forsthye leads the division in scoring (12.4 points per game). … Lafayette is still undefeated (11-0) with a huge rematch against Goldstein coming up Feb. 12. The last time the two teams met Jan. 8, Lafayette squeaked out a 76-75 win at home. … Bishop Ford, which is trying to be the third and last team to make the CHSAA Class AA state tournament out of Brooklyn/Queens, has a key, non-league match-up against streaking Kennedy on Saturday. It’ll be a good gauge for the young Falcons to see how far they’ve come this season. JFK has won 11 straight.

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