By Mike Sandrolini
MAYWOOD—The Proviso East boys basketball team, with two straight appearances in
the Class 4A final four—including finishing runner-up in 2011-12—deservedly gets all
kinds of recognition and accolades.
Yet the Lady Pirates’ success in recent years is noteworthy, as well. In 2010-11, coach
Ezra PridGeon’s Pirates set a school record for most victories in a season (30) and
reached the Class 4A supersectionals for the first time in school history.
The next year, East finished 23-9 and advanced to the sectional semifinals. Last winter,
the Pirates—despite losing several seniors from the previous team to graduation—
caught fire towards the end of the year and reached the sectional semifinals again
while going 16-14.
The 2013-14 Pirates, with a number of players back from last year’s squad, can go 10
deep, and it appears as if they could be hitting their stride once again with the second
half of the season now under way.
East was 9-10 at one point, but the Pirates have rattled off four consecutive victories—a
nice momentum boost going into next Thursday’s showdown at West Suburban Gold-
The Pirates have played several teams so far that are ranked in the Chicago area, but
PridGeon said the number of his team’s losses arguably should be cut in half. “We’re
not where we expected to be at this point in the season,” he said. “In actuality, we
should only have about five or six losses under our belt, and that’s to some quality
teams. We played good against Marian Catholic (a 50-40 loss Dec. 14). That’s a game
we should have won that we let slip by. Then we played Evanston (Nov. 27) and
Evanston’s a good team, and we played Morgan Park (a 60-45 loss Dec. 13). We’ve
played Batavia; we’ve played some quality teams and also we’ve lost to Willowbrook as
well. Those are all ranked teams.
“We expected to be in all those games and some other games we lost we should not
have lost. And that goes back to the tournament as well.” Make that tournaments. The
Pirates competed in two holiday tournaments last month: the Oswego High School
Hoops for Troops Holiday Classic and the Oswego East holiday tourney. They placed
fourth at each tournament. “We should’ve finished higher than we did,” PridGeon said.
The Pirates start junior guard Da’Tasia Almon, senior forward Breana Myricks, and two
sophomores: forward Savannah Clark and guard Cinia McCray, who transferred to East
from Proviso West prior to the start of the season.
Junior forward Diamond Copeland and senior Shawntrae Douglas share starting
duties, depending on matchups. Tia Barlow, a 5-10 senior, is usually the Pirates’ first
player off the bench; seniors Ariel Wilson and Keilani Howery, and junior Jasmine Levy
(6-0) also have been contributing in a reserve role.
“Diamond Copeland and Breana have really come around for us these last four to five
games, especially Breana,” PridGeon said of Myricks, who’s led the team in scoring
each of the past four games.
“Da’Tasia, she’s been struggling a little bit. She’s had a lot on her mind so we’re just
trying to get her back focused and playing the type of ball we know she’s capable of
playing. Tia Barlow has been in a little slump lately. We’re just trying to get her back on
“Defensively, Shawntrae Douglas has been a big for us. Savannah Clark has been
putting up some numbers for us. Offensively and defensively, she’s very, very
aggressive; she’s very quick. She anticipates a lot of (opponents’) passes and she’s
had a quite a few steals and makes some assists. She has been a big factor for us.
Sometimes she moves too fast and we have to get her to slow down.”
It took over a month before the IHSA ruled that McCray could suit up for the Pirates after
transferring. Once she did, she contributed right away. McCray was named to the
Oswego East holiday tournament’s all-tourney team after totaling 61 points, 20
rebounds, 13 assists and 11 steals over four games.
“She’s adapted pretty well,” PridGeon said. “She’s a very competitive athlete, and we
need to get her to slow down sometimes. She goes a little bit too fast for the game, but
when she slows down and lets everything come to her, she is effective.”
Meanwhile, Almon was named to the all-tourney team at Oswego High School. She
accumulated 38 points, 15 boards, 16 assists and nine steals over three games. “We
are playing decent together and we just need to get better and better every time we
practice,” Almon said.
PridGeon, whose team is 6-1 in the West Suburban Gold, said he hopes the Pirates
can grab a share of the WSG championship. After facing Willowbrook next week, East
will have four conference games remaining: at Downers South Jan. 25, home dates
with Leyden (Jan. 31) and Hinsdale South (Feb. 4) and an away game versus Addison
Trail on Feb. 7. “Playing at Willowbrook is not easy,” PridGeon said, “but we have to go
there with a mindset and understand what goals we have and accomplish those goals.”
Another long-term goal, of course, is to make an extended post-season run. Almon said
the Pirates possess the heart and ability to do so. “Everybody wants it more this year
than everybody did last year,” she said. “We don’t have to depend on one person.
Everybody has their parts on the team so it’s easier now than it was last year.”
“We have to start playing a little harder, be more consistent, keep our turnovers down
and we must get contributions from our bench,” PridGeon added. “If we get
contributions from our bench and also our starters on the floor, stay out of foul trouble
and fine-tune the things we’ve been working on, hopefully that will carry us pretty far in
the state tournament.”
Lady Pirates may be hitting