Photo courtesy of Marcus Stevens.
By David Cordova
In the PSAL, there has been one borough that has dominated throughout this decade. That borough is none other than Brooklyn. In the last nine years, only two PSAL “AA” city titles were won by teams from outside the borough Queens’ Cardozo High School in 2014 and The Bronx’s Wings Academy in 2015.
Boys & Girls won three straight titles from 2010 to 2012, Lincoln won in 2013 and 2017 & Jefferson won in 2016. In that league, it is a tough game every game, and no breaks are given. It is the high school equivalent of what the Big East or ACC is in college basketball.
Last March, there was one team that stood above the rest at the Barclays Center, which is also ironically, in Brooklyn. South Shore was the program that for many years had strong teams, yet couldn’t get over the hump, losing in the city quarterfinals. But last season, they finally made it happen, with a 78-66 win over Cardozo High School on St. Patrick’s Day.
Now, in the present day, the Vikings are back with a vengeance and plan on dominating every time they step out on the court. This season, their mission is to repeat as PSAL “AA” city champions and to win the New York State Federation championship.
First things first, what’s the Vikings’ overall mission as a program other than winning championships? “Just to represent Brooklyn, represent New York City, and to get kids to go to college, that’s the mission,” said head coach Shawn Mark.
When asked about winning the city championship in the borough of Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, Mark replied, “Great moment for the community, great moment for the school. I try to keep these moments up, just trying to keep building success at the school to help kids go to college, that’s the main goal, making sure kids go to school.”
On exposure for the players after winning the city title, Mark replied, “A lot of [our] kids are getting looks [from colleges], even some of our bench guys are definitely getting a lot of looks, so [we’ve] just been prospering.”
This season, the Vikings are on fire, as they have steamrolled to a 16-2 record and are ranked No. 5 in New York State. In the PSAL, they are currently 9-1. Last month, in their return to the Barclays Center for the Battle in the Apple Classic, they dismantled perennial New York City powerhouse, Christ the King High School, 75-54. Around the Christmas holiday, they went out to Fairdale, Kentucky, and swept the competition at the King of the Bluegrass tournament, becoming the first New York team since Christ the King in 1988 to win a title in that event.
Their core group of players are a quartet of seniors in 6-foot-4 shooting guard Kadary Richmond, 6-foot-5 forward Femi Odukale, 6-foot-10 forward Isaiah Richards, who is signed to Florida International University and 6-foot-2 point guard Dwight Davis, Jr. This quartet is one of the most dangerous groups of players in the city as they will give opposing teams fits, due to their hard-nosed style of play.
The Vikings’ supporting cast consists of 5-foot-10 junior point guard Kareem May, 6-foot-8 senior forward Anthony Latty, 6-foot-1 sophomore shooting guard Kipplyn Richrine and 6-foot-6 senior forward Phillips Joseph.
On the subject of Richmond, Mark added: “All-around player, plays for me where I need him to play for me, one thing I’m going to say about him is he’s matured a lot. His maturity level is to another level.”
When they were younger, many of the South Shore players played for Mark on the Brooklyn Rens. When asked how it felt building his program from the ground up, he replied, “It felt good, shout out to Dan Klores. Great mentor, great friend, keep on building.”
When asked if he felt as if the Vikings had the tools and the talent to repeat as city champions, he replied, “I go game by game, so I’ve never been too cocky, you know we’re just going to keep going game by game to see where we are.”
With nine seniors on this year’s squad, the Vikings have maybe the most leadership amongst city teams. With all of their experience, it should be a sure thing that South Shore will make another deep playoff run once again. Barring any error, the best is yet to come for the squad from the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.