Last year's breakout team, South Shore, is coming into the season with the same roster but higher expectations. While they still won't be expected to jump to the top just yet, they won't be sneaking up on nearly as many this season.
Coach Michael Beckles acknowledges the expectations and is choosing to focus on the little things this season, "Personally we're going to take it day-by-day, trying to improve as a team. Every day, we try to do the things it takes to improve whether it be by practice or in a game."
Last season's fourth-quarter implosion against eventual PSAL 'AA' champion Boys & Girls in the semifinals still lingers on Beckles' mind.
"I think about what might have been all the time, but we have to use that as a way to improve for this season," Beckles said. "It was the immaturity, guys not really being poised, and some adversity that led to our collapse. I think this season we're definitely going to do a better job against that and try to wipe that loss out of our minds."
With the additions of Rice transfer Gene Toussaint and Brooklyn College Academy transfer David Tate, the Vikings should have a dominant frontline bolstered by defense and rebounding.
"The two of them bring a lot to the table," Beckles said. "Their addition gives us defense, rebounds, and a serious presence in the paint."
Seniors Daniel Thompson, Wayne Martin, and Kwanique Martin, along with junior standouts Shamiek Sheppard and Terrence Samuel, will give the Vikings a variety of different looks.
"Terrence and Shamiek are going into their third years playing varsity so that experience should definitely play a role in this year's success,"Beckles said.
The 6-foot-3 Samuel, in particular, who will be looked to for his ball-control and improved scoring, is already one of the best guards in the city.
"If he can continue to push himself as hard as the coaches push him, I think he can have a really good year," reasoned Beckles. "If he continues to work, he's guaranteed to have a lot of success this season."
Perhaps the biggest revelation ocould be the improvement of sophomore guard Doudmy Saint Hilaire, who had a relatively quiet freshman campaign.
"Doudmy is going to surprise a lot of people," Beckles said. "Not only can he do a lot, but he's very aggressive, he's fearless and he's only a sophomore. He has a lot of room to improve."
The road ahead is bright for South Shore and, after last season's resurgence, the PSAL has been put on notice. With another season to mature and size up front, the Vikings could be something special this season.