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Senior moments lead South Shore against Jefferson

Anwar Gladden knew it before the season started. The South Shore girls’ basketball team was only going to go as far as its seniors could take it.

“We’re going to win or lose with the seniors,” the coach said.

And in the Vikings’ biggest game to date, it was those three 12th graders who led the team to victory.

Baytania Newman, Valerie Patterson and Angel Porter all came up huge in different spots late in the game in South Shore’s 50-47 win against Thomas Jefferson on Thursday in what was a battle of the lone remaining undefeated teams in PSAL league play. The victory all but seals a top-two seed for the Vikings in the upcoming PSAL Class AA playoffs.

“I think it’s just the beginning,” Newman said. … “We just want it more, because it’s our last year.”

It was a close game throughout, but Jefferson (16-4, 13-1 Brooklyn AA Group 2) led, 41-35, with 6:29 left and South Shore star sophomore Jasmine Odom was hampered with four fouls. Momentum seemed to be in the Orange Wave’s favor, but Patterson knocked down a big baseline jump shot and got fouled on two consecutive possessions. The forward scored five straight Vikings points, and grabbed a pair of rebounds, too, to help cut the deficit to 42-40 with 5:35 left.

Newman would put South Shore (19-4, 15-0 Brooklyn AA Group 1) up, 44-42, with a floater in the lane, but Jefferson’s superstar junior guard Alicia Cropper made an incredible move into the lane, went to the basket and got fouled. She converted what looked like a back-breaking three-point play to give the Orange Wave a 45-44 lead with 1:47 left.

Just five seconds later though, Porter came down and hit a floater of her own to put South Shore back on top. After Jefferson junior Danielle Pearson missed the front end of a one-and-one, Newman gave the Vikings some breathing room. She dribbled around the perimeter, found an opening and went in for an uncontested layup to give South Shore a 48-45 lead with 46 seconds left.

“My only captain,” Gladden said of Newman. “We’ve been through so much. That kid is like a second daughter to me. … We’ll see her in the Big East or ACC in two years.”

Jefferson did respond with a Joycelyn Cummings basket with 32 seconds left, but turnovers – including a key steal by South Shore junior Taylor Lloyd with 4.6 seconds left – did in the Orange Wave. A halfcourt heave by Shaniqua Reese at the buzzer, which would have tied the game, just missed, hitting the back of the rim.

“When you turn the ball over playing a good team, it’s hard to win,” said Jefferson coach Dwayne (Pearl) Washington, who was cleared officially as the team’s head coach Thursday.

South Shore has certainly proven itself as just that. The Vikings, now the only undefeated team in PSAL league play, can make a case for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming PSAL Class AA playoffs after Murry Bergtraum fell to Manhattan Center on Wednesday.

Against Jefferson, South Shore was able to negate the Orange Wave’s press with its strong guard play, keep Cropper from getting her teammates involved and control the paint with Patterson.

“We gave them the inside,” Gladden said. “We thought we had an advantage inside.”

Newman led the way with 15 points for the Vikings, Patterson had 13 and Odom added 11. Porter had just five points, but all came on gigantic late-game baskets. Cropper scored 18 points for Jefferson.

“The seniors did it,” Gladden said. … “I can’t wait to see them walk down the aisle [at graduation]. I want to see that more than anything else.”

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