2008-01-18 / Sports

Lady Dolphins Finally Taste First Victory

By Elio Velez

Vandriel Winningham knew there was tension mounting inside a tense Beach Channel gymnasium last Monday evening.

The Beach Channel Lady Dolphins was facing the prospects of suffering their tenth loss of the season but Winningham was determined to not let that happen.

Winningham's first shot with time running out hit the backboard. When teammate Precious Hills grabbed the ball and dished the ball back to Winningham, her second chance at glory would hit nothing but net.

With two seconds left in the fourth quarter, Winningham hit the game-winning layup as Beach Channel won their first game of the season, 42-40.

When the ball went into the net, Winningham, her teammates, and the crowd finally let out their collective breath and celebrated.

"My head wasn't in the game. I forced shots. Then I got myself in the game and I was good," Winningham, who scored a team high 11 points, said.

"I knew it was going to go in. As soon as I touched it. We needed this a lot. This is a turnaround for this team. It was killing me that we went through this."

Dolphins coach Craig Kander has tried to keep their focus on winning. It hasn't been easy with the mounting losses but a victory cured some of the ills that have been hanging around all season.

"Between the losing and getting blown out, they've been getting one ach other a bit. I told them that we have to work through that. It's a tough division," Kander said.

The Dolphins didn't play particularly well. Missing 18 layups and seven of twelve free throws should have been possible causes of a defeat.

But they showed the fortitude Kander was looking for. The Lady Dolphins climbed back from a six-point deficit with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter and erased possible defeat.

Winningham knows all about getting a second chance. Being in the tough PSAL AA Division is already a mounting challenge but the season got off to a bad note when they had to forfeit their first game of the year to Cardozo.

Frustrated with a number of blowout losses to the likes of Thomas Jefferson and August Martin, the senior quit the team.

"I quit after the third game of the year because it was too much," Winingham said.

She wanted to return but it wouldn't be so simple.

After some discussions with teammate and good friend Theasha Bryan, Winningham asked and received permission from Coach Craig Kander and her teammates to return.

"I came back because I love basketball.I've been wanting to come back but when somebody quits, I know that the team wouldn't want me back on the team. So they voted me back on."

The Dolphins record of 1-10 would not be good enough to qualify for the postseason. But since they are in the PSALAALeague, every team will qualify for the playoffs. All Kander wants from his team is to show a spirited effort on the floor that they could be proud of. With four more games in the regular season left for Beach Channel, there is a chance that some more wins could erase some of the the aggravation that has mounted.

"They are frustrated. I'm frustrated. It's not been that fun and I'm glad they got this win today," Kander said. "If they didn't get this win today, it would have been a step back."

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