Lady Dolphins Clinch Playoff Berth
In a game that would decide their playoff fate, Beach Channel pulled off its most complete effort of the season at the right time. The Lady Dolphins demolished John Bowne at home 73-30 last Wednesday to finish at 7-7 and clinch a PSAL playoff berth.
It was joyous finish for a team that went through its fair share of ups and downs. Head coach Victor Nazario has had more work to do this season than in any of his previous five years as coach.
“I’ve coached playoff teams every year but as it turns out, the biggest surprise by far is this one,” Nazario said.
They had to deal with a lot of adversity. The 2003-04 team went undefeated and were a veteran team with seven seniors. This year’s roster is comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores who had little game exeprience before the start of the season. They were promoted to the tough PSAL “A” Division from the PSAL “B”.
Nazario acknowledged that he had to slowly introduce new plays and learn through game experience on which players would fit certain roles.
At one point on January 12, the Dolphins fell to 2-7. In a very important meeting, the team and coaching staff agreed that the season was far from over and would not give up. It was a turning point that led to them to playoff spot.
“We all decided that if we put in the hard work and the time, it will pay off in the end and it did,” Nazario said.
They displayed that hard work in a blowout win that was all Dolphins from start to finish. After not playing for two weeks due to Regents, Beach Channel did not come out flat against Bowne (2-12).
“I talked to them how they (Bowne) may come in with the spoiler’s mentality and we needed to be prepared for that,” Nazario said. “But the girls assured me that we will play this game hard and we will give you our word and they stuck to it.”
Antoinette Jolly had a well rounded game with 16 points, 8 rebound and 6 assists. Tanya Stanford led all scorers with 18 points and Jasmine Strong pulled 25 rebounds off the boards.
“The team has grown as a unit. They know each other well,” Nazario said.
The celebration will have to end on Saturday when Beach Channel plays in the PSAL Queens Borough championship against undefeated Francis Lewis (at John Bowne High School, 12 p.m.). The Patriots have handily beaten the Dolphins in both games but Nazario hopes that his team will display the positives enough to stay in the ballgame. It’s also a chance to brush up once the citywide playoffs begin on February 12.
“It helps us prepare for the (citywide) playoffs. I consider it an honor that we were invited in our first year,” Nazario said. “When we get into the playoffs, we just might end up upsetting someone in the front round.”
Lady Seahorses Fight For Title
Consistency and hard work are very important to Far Rockaway girls’ varsity coach Les Sabbah. Those are two main factors for his Lady Seahorses’ rise to first place in the PSAL Queens I-B Division.
Today, the Seahorses will have one more big challenge when they travel to Van Buren (4:30) in a game that will decide who will be in sole possession for first. With both teams tied at 11-2, the Seahorses need their best players to step up.
“They (Van Buren) can run and they have a lot of experience,” says Sabbah.
Far Rockaway defeated Van Buren in an exciting come from behind 45-42 win at home earlier this season after being down 38-27 to start the fourth quarter. Senior point guard Shamar Stewartson has been a force this year averaging 19 points per game and 5 assists. Nayima Reid, who hit the game winning three point play against Van Buren in the fourth quarter has averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a game.
“We’ve had no injuries and the girls come to practice every day and work hard. They’re getting better as individuals and as a team,” Sabbah said.
Men’s Dolphins Look To Playoffs
Forward Dwayne Messam is confident that Beach Channel (8-6) can surprise someone in the PSAL citywide playoffs. Beating divisional champion Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway twice this season has been monumental wins according to Messam.
They have competed in losses to rivals Van Buren in double overtime and with Campus Magnet. For a team that wasn’t considered to make the playoffs, Messam feels that the Dolphins can put a scare in any team they face in the first round. “We like being the underrated team and being the underdog,” Messam said.