Lady Dolphins Approach Playoffs With Confidence
By Elio Velez
The cold brutal winds from the frozen Jamaica Bay and inside Beach Channel High School the warm gym showcases a divisional rivalry. The Lady Dolphins is facing off against the Richmond Hill Lady Lions. With the playoffs fast approaching, the Dolphins have clinched the Queens I-B title and the second place Lions would like to win to give them a chance for a better seed in the Queensboro playoff championships.
The Lady Dolphins get off to a fast start with a swarming defense that leads to a fastbreak. Dolphins center Katreem Palmer quickly grabs the rebound and sends the ball to her teammate, point guard Chaquit Ivory. Ivory has to make a quick decision with a 2 on 1 advantage near the three-point line with teammate Gina Giles trailing on her left. As Ivory is guarded by a Lions’ guard, Chaquit quickly gives a glance to Giles and with no hesitation, passes it to Giles to convert the layup and 2 points
Pushing the ball and being aggressive have been one of the most important keys to being a successful team and with a 57-47 win over Richmond Hill, the Dolphins improved to 14-2 on the season. Head Coach Victor Nazario Jr., in his 4th season, remarks that even with the win, the Dolphins played a little sloppy. "In the first half, we had 11 or 12 turnovers and we had to protect the ball. The kids knew that and we made some big shots to keep Richmond Hill off balance." Palmer said, "We fought hard to win and that’s what we been doing all year."
The 14-2 record and a divisional championship has been no surprise to Coach Nazario. "It’s a nice accomplishment for the kids", Nazario says with a smile. With a team of mostly juniors, the team has played together through a lot of regular season and post-season games in 2001 and 2002. "This team can compete with anyone in the B league", says Nazario. The two losses in the PSAL have come against John Bowne and Bayside. "Even in our losses, we haven’t been blown out. We only lost by less than 10 to those teams so we were competitive in all our games."
With a close tight knit group on the court, Nazario looks to his players to provide leadership and direction and Katreem Palmer was one of the players he wanted to count on. The junior center Palmer was made captain of the team before the start of this season after playing her first year as a sophomore. Palmer has not disappointed as she leads the team with 21 points and 16 rebounds a game. "I wanted her to step up more this season and become a leader and she has done it", Nazario says. "She is more verbal, takes charge, and on and off the court, she is a leader."
Point guard Chaquit Ivory is a stable force that Nazario counts on the lead the offense. Nazario admires the floor leadership Ivory provides for the Dolphins; "She has a lot of confidence on the court. Chaquit is also a good shooter and I’ve been trying to free her up in the gameplan to score more".
Nazario also mentioned that Charlene Greene is one of the examples of a player whose intangibles and hustle sometimes doesn’t show up on the stats. "She is one of those players that a team can’t really do without. She is a scrappy player who dives after looseballs, does the dirtywork and plays 110%", Nazario says. Giles doesn’t mind that she has to get bruised and scraped to help her team win a ballgame. "I want to win and its nothing to me about getting injured".
In the past, non-divisional schools have not committed to playing because of the long travel but good teams such as Bayside and Forest Hills decided to play the Dolphins this year. Nazario knows that games against those opponents are important for the girls "Forest Hills came to Beach Channel at 9-1 at the time and I had heard they were a good team, Nazario remembers. But we did a great job and beat them by 29 points. Some of those teams we might face again in the playoffs so we’re really prepared". Nazario also glowingly remarks about how the team on and off the court truly likes one another. "There is no animosity on this team and every player on the bench and the floor root for one another."
With the upcoming playoffs, Nazario will preach the fundamentals and stress the positive gains that the team made this year. "I always tell our ladies, rebounding and defense wins championships. And that is what we have to continue to perform at."