Patriots learn from disappointing semifinal loss
Jazmine Hamlet doesn’t need to watch the tape to remember a 21-point loss to South Shore in the PSAL semifinals last March. The disappointing defeat is permanently burned on Francis Lewis senior’s brain.
It’s what serves as the Patriots biggest motivation this season.
“That really devastated us,” Hamlet said. “We still talk about that game, in the hallways, in [Tsai’s] office. That’s all we talk about. It was bad. We all just want to go back and do it over.”
South Shore went on to lose to Murry Bergtraum in the final at Madison Square Garden and Hamlet and her teammates went home wondering what went wrong. It’s a conversation she has with her teammates almost daily.
“We talk about what happened to our defense, why our defense broke down, foul trouble,” she said. “We remember that game play-by-play.”
Can Lewis take that next step this year? That answer won’t come until March, but coach Steve Tsai said the Patriots are already ahead of last year’s team with the league opener two days away.
“Even though we’ve only been together for a short amount of time, where we are in term of progress compared to last year I feel like we’re more ahead,” he said.
Tsai points toward the Patriots core – Jasmine Davis, Hamlet and Tyese Purvis – as the reason why there’s better execution in the preseason and good chemistry.
“We played with each other in the summer all the time,” Purvis said. “We know each other real well.”
Davis did a bit of everything for the Patriots a year ago, averaging 12.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game as a junior. Hamlet averaged 11.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game and Purvis, the team’s best post presence who improved her jump shot, had 14.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
But Lewis is far from a three-player team. Tsai said he hopes Erica Ward will have an increased role this year and has high expectations from freshman Robin Francis and Alex Sierra, who is up from the JV, as well as Anika Pornpitaksuk from the tennis team and softball player Taylor Stanton, who should add some much-needed depth.
“Robin and Alex are really going to play big roles,” Davis said. “As a freshman, Robin is picking up everything so quickly and Alex, over the summer, really developed her shot and she’s getting everything so quickly also.”
Lewis opens its regular season Wednesday against Truman in the revamped PSAL Class AA. The Patriots compete in the five-team Bronx/Manhattan/Queens ‘AA’ division with Truman, Manhattan Center, John F. Kennedy and Murry Bergtraum.
“The first time I heard [about the change] I was like really?” Purvis said. “Now we have to work really hard. We can do it though. I think we’re a solid team right now.”
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