By Joseph Staszewski
If Francis Lewis is looking for a turning point to its season, it may have found it in a win over Staten Island Academy.
The Patriots, without star Sierra Green (ankle), beat the Tigers and Wagner College commit Corinn Baggs 54-51 at the Rose Classic Super Jam girls’ basketball event at Nazareth on Monday.
“We all had to step up,” senior forward Dominique Williams said.
It was Lewis’ second big win since it hit a low with a lopsided loss to defending PSAL Class AA city champions South Shore Jan. 8. It cruised past Truman 77-53, but beating SIA was much more impressive on so many levels.
“I think today we decided to play together,” Lewis coach Steve Tsai said. “That’s what we have been preaching. After we got blown out by South Shore we knew we could be better.”
The victory came after Lewis fell to a very good St. Frances (Md.) team at the Super Jam on Friday and learned that Green, the team’s leading scorer, would miss the game after twisting her ankle.
Lewis overcame her absence by playing the team ball Tsai has been asking for all season. It got contributions from its young players and saw senior Dominique Williams play like the impact player she is capable of being. Williams dropped in 21 points and out battled the Tigers forwards on the boards. She defended well and was consistently aggressive on offense. “Dominique should be a star,” Tsai said. “I keep on saying.”
Along with her, point guard Taliyah Brisco is coming into her own. The senior, who has sometimes been in the background behind Robyn Francis and Chi La Bady in previous years, is the team’s most consistent player. She scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists. Brisco shook off some poor decisions early to get the Lewis offense going by spreading the ball around.
“She kind of settled down everything,” Tsai said.
Once Williams fouled out of the game, sophomore Sabrina Vitale (11 points) hit two free throws to put Lewis ahead for good at 53-51 with 5.2 seconds remaining. It was the highlight of the night for the Patriots’ young players.
The game could easily turn into just one good night in the course of the season, but if Francis Lewis is looking for a turning point, this could certainly be it. The team found the way it needs to play and the effort level it needs to compete if it is going to make a run at a city title.
“This helped us confidence-wise,” Williams said. “I’m not saying we don’t need [Green], but we can do stuff also. Other people can score on the team.”