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South Shore and Grand Street advance to girls PSAL city finals

March 9, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brianna Fraser played like an All­American when she helped South Shore to defeat Francis Lewis in the semifinals. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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For the first time since Robeson High School won the title in 1991, Brooklyn is going to be home to the girls basketball Public School Athletic League (PSAL) AA champions. Now it’s just a question of who is going to win it — South Shore High School or Grand Street Campus.

South Shore High School beat Francis Lewis 60-54 at Lehman College on Saturday to get back to the finals for the third time in four years. Grand Street’s 52-47 victory over Bergtraum High School, just two hours earlier, was a bit more surprising, as the school has never been known as much of a girls basketball powerhouse.

“Everybody doubted us and said we couldn’t do it,” said Grand Street senior Arelis Cora. “We’re that quiet team that didn’t have the nice year. We were the team that nobody was worried about.”

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Grand Street started slowly against Bergtraum as the Wolves fell behind in the first quarter with junior Shanique Edwards on the bench to start the game. The game changed as soon as she entered, though, as Grand Street quickly managed to tie the score by halftime after trailing by 10 points in the first quarter.

The turning point occurred when Bergtraum’s star player, Seton Hall commit Ashanae McLaughlin, took her fourth foul with two minutes to play in the first half.

“That’s their main go-to player,” Cora said of McLaughlin. “Once she got her fourth foul, now it’s like, ‘OK, we need to do what we have to do to take advantage of her being out of the game.’”

With McLaughlin on the bench, the Grand Street Wolves smelled blood. They tied the game up at 27-27 at halftime — and that was just the start of a 10-2 run that gave the Wolves a 37-29 lead that they wouldn’t lose.

Bergtraum would eventually cut the lead back down to three, but Cora nailed a three to put Grand Street up 49-43 with 2:27 left, which took all of the wind out of Bergtraum’s sail.

Cora led Grand Street with 14 points, Edwards had 12 and Kaisah Lucky had eight points and three assists.

With one Brooklyn team in the championship, it was up to South Shore to defeat Francis Lewis in a rematch of last year’s title bout to make it an all-Brooklyn affair.

Francis Lewis had the early advantage in the game, leading 31-25 at halftime, and the team was up by 11 in the third quarter. Fraser and South Shore started going to work by the end of the third and closed the gap to just two points after a 10-2 run.

The fourth quarter was all South Shore. Ashley McDonald got things started with a three that put South Shore up 43-42 — its first lead since the second quarter. Brianna Fraser showed off why she’s an All-American with 10 points in the fourth, including seven during a 10-0 run that left Francis Lewis behind 57-52.

Fraser finished with 27 points and 20 rebounds. McDonald had 12 points and Destiny Philoxy had seven points.

When asked after the game what he said to Fraser to get her to play so well down the stretch, South Shore head coach Anwar Gladden shook his head and said, “I’m all out of speeches for Brianna Fraser. I’ve pulled everything out of the closest for her during her entire career. She’s got it now.”

The two Brooklyn teams will now face each other at Madison Square Garden on Saturday for the PSAL title. South Shore will undoubtedly be the favorite, as it walks in with the experience and the All-American — but Grand Street has done nothing but surprise people this season, and could continue that trend.

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