Brooklyn has long been the Mecca of basketball on the boys side. This year, with the emergence of Nazareth, the borough owned things with the girls as well.
When St. Michael Academy closed, coach Apache Paschall took his nationally ranked team and brought it over to Nazareth in East Flatbush. The rest is history. Naz won the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens regular-season title, the diocesan crown, the CHSAA Class AA state title and finally the New York State Federation Class AA championship in a remarkable season.
In the PSAL, South Shore made its second appearance in the PSAL Class AA championship game in three seasons and Poly Prep won a second straight Ivy League crown.
Player of the Year: Jasmine Odom, South Shore
The knock on Jasmine Odom early in her career was that she was immature, inconsistent and incapable of being a leader. It was never about her talent, which was always well documented. This season, she put it all together and led South Shore to the Garden for the second time in three years. It was her team this time.
“We wouldn’t have gone to the championship without her,” Vikings coach Anwar Gladden said. “She had a great career.”
Odom had 20 points in the semifinals against Francis Lewis and 17 in the quarters versus Midwood. She had 19 of her 21 points in the second half against Long Island powerhouse St. Anthony’s and 16 in another win over a CHSAA stalwart in Mary Louis.
“If we would have lost [in the semis], it would have been a failure,” Odom said. “I would have felt like I didn’t accomplish nothing. I’m a senior. I want to go into the Garden.”
Coach of the Year: Kasim Alston, Bishop Loughlin
Alston’s task when the year started was arduous. The first-year coach took over a team that that didn’t win a game the season prior in its first back at the highest level after a two-year absence. Alston’s passion and commitment helped restore winning and a new-found confidence to the Lions program.
“We can beat anyone,” junior guard Ayana Ratliff said.
Loughlin finished 13-13 overall and 5-9 in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I. It picked up an upset win over league power Mary Louis and fell a few victories short of competing for a CHSAA Class AA tournament spot.
“It’s just a growing process and it shows that we are here to compete and we are here to stay,” he said. “It’s not that we are just going to come here, just to move up out of the ‘B’ division. We know that these kids are capable of competing on that level.”
G Darius Faulk,
All you need to know about the junior point guard’s worth was when she got in early foul trouble in an eventual blowout loss to Christ the King in the regular season. When she was on the court, all Faulk did was lead Naz to its first state Federation Class AA title.
F Taylor Ford, Nazareth
There may not have been a more consistent and explosive performer on both ends of the floor for the Lady Kingsmen this season. Ford scored 18 points in Nazareth’s CHSAA Class AA state final win over Christ the King.
F Tiffany Jones,
The Syracuse-bound forward save her best basketball for when it mattered most. She made a season-saving steal in the CHSAA Class AA state semifinals and scored 22 points and earned MVP honors in the Federation final.
F Fannisha Price,
There were very few true post players as effective as the burly, 6-foot-2 junior. Price consistently dominated in the paint to lead South Shore to its second PSAL Class AA title game in three years.
G Africa Williams,
The sensational sophomore made a huge impact on the PSAL after transferring from Bishop Ford. She led the league, averaging 29.1 points per game, and got Banneker to the PSAL Class AA quarterfinals for the first time since 2004-05.
G Bianca Cuevas,
Cuevas proved why she is one of the nation’s top freshmen this season. With Nazareth coach Apache Paschall looking to keep her humble, she was the team’s spark off the bench with a big 3-pointer, a key steal or a circus finish in transtion
G Aaliyah Lewis,
The sophomore guard was one of the city’s most explosive players. Lewis could go off, especially behind the arc at any moment, and her fall away jumper in the diocesan playoffs against Molloy helped earn Ford a chance at the CHSAA Class AA state tournament.
F Brittany Lewis, Bishop Ford
Lewis might have been the most important player on an undersized Bishop Ford team. She was steady in the paint and clutch in some of the season’s biggest moments, including hitting free throw late to beat then-nationally ranked H.D. Woodson (D.C.).
G Imani Tate,
The sophomore had the major impact coach Kasim Alston had hoped. The 5-foot-8 freakish athlete was one of the Lions’ leading scorers, a force night in and night out on the boards and a serious defensive threat.
F Jenice Winter,
Working hard on the boards and scoring many of her points on putbacks, the 5-foot-11 Winter did all the dirty work down low. The unselfish junior’s intangibles helped bring South Shore to the Garden again.
F Bra’Shey Ali, Nazareth
Ali was Nazareth’s Swiss Army knife. The West Virginia-bound senior provided whatever was needed -- she could score inside or out and was problem for opponents on the glass. Ali had one of the year’s biggest baskets late against St. Anthony’s (L.I.) in the CHSAA Class AA state semis..
G Jasmine Alston, Bishop Loughlin
The sophomore was one of the Lions’ steadiest players. She was an explosive scorer consistantly in double figures and also got it done on the defensive end, where she was known to spark Louglin’s signature transition game.
G Ashley Castle,
Scoring machine was an apt way to describe Castle’s abilities. The 5-foot-8 senior got Medgar Evers points from all over the court, but it was really her ability to distribute the ball that made the Cougars successful.
F Samantha Retas, Bishop Kearney
The Wilmington-bound senior becames Kearney’s latest 1,000-point scorer, quietly going about about her business as her team struggled and collecting multiple 20-point performances. She is the model of efficiency on the offensive end.
G Shanice Vaughan, Bishop Ford
Vaughan played her best basketball by season’s end, fearlessly attacking the basket. The junior had 28 points, four assists and four steals in a big late-season win over Bishop Loughlin that kept Ford’s ‘AA’ hopes alive.
C Alyson Caiazzo, St. Saviour
F Shaquella Figueroa, Lincoln
G Katie Friel, Poly Prep
G Francess Henry, Midwood
G Tatiana Wilson, South Shore
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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