Sunday showcase: Chong drops 55
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Watch this game in its entirety on MSG Varsity iO Ch. 14 on Thursday at 4 p.m.
IRVINGTON, N.Y. — The “Game of the Year” in Hudson Valley girls basketball didn’t live up to the hype. But the standing-room only crowd at Irvington on Sunday was certainly treated to another jaw-dropping episode of The Saniya Show.
Ossining junior star Saniya Chong turned in the second-highest scoring effort of a career that’s on the cusp of becoming legendary. In a matchup of the region’s two best teams, Chong scored 55 points, hit eight 3-pointers, and shouldered the Pride to a head-spinning 93-65 victory over host Irvington.
With hundreds of fans filling the stands and lining the sidelines, Chong was borderline brilliant, whether she was pulling up from well behind the 3-point line or driving to basket and finishing with her left hand through traffic.
Coaches from St. John’s, Rutgers, Marist and several other prominent Division I schools watched the game courtside for the game, which was the finale of the annual Autism Classic. And they were lining up to talk to Ossining coach Dan Ricci afterwards.
“This was definitely the two best teams in Section 1,” Ricci said. “Saniya just put us on her shoulders today and the other kids on this team just play so hard and play so well with her.”
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Chong shot 19 of 36 from the field, 8 of 15 from 3-point range, and had five rebounds, four steals and four assists. Her 55 points raised her season scoring average to a Section 1 best 35.1 per game.
Chong had 28 points by halftime as Ossining was comfortably ahead of the two-time Class B state champs, 45-30. She then scored 20 of her team’s 30 points in the third quarter, including three 3-pointers.
“People don’t realize that she can do this any time she wants,” Ricci said. “She plays her best against the best teams. She’s unguardable one-on-one.”
Ossining, the defending Section 1 Class AA champs, outscored the Bulldogs (10-1) 57-23 in the second and third quarters combined and took a 34 point lead into the fourth.
Chong’s performance, combined with Ossining’s uptempo style, completely exhausted the Bulldogs, who rarely go deep into their bench.
“We knew they could run. But we wanted to run them and get them tired,” Ricci said.
Along with Chong, Danielle Gervaccio, Destini Walker, Jalay Knowles and Kathryn Polletta each played pivotal roles in the victory.
Knowles and Walker did a solid job in the paint against Irvington standout forward Lexi Martins. Waker had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Gervaccio had 12 points and three assists, and Kathryn Polletta had six points and was strong defensively.
“I came out slow and my teammates picked me up,” said Chong, who sat courtside at the Rutgers women’s game on Saturday during a recruiting visit.
“Seeing a big crowd tonight, it motivated me so much,” Chong added. “I came in to this very nervous. People expect to see us play hard. That’s what I wanted to do, just play as hard as I can.”
Irvington simply didn’t have the depth to keep up with Ossining. Bulldogs senior Marley Giddins did have one of her best efforts of the season, putting up 29 points and 13 rebounds. Martins added 13 points and 22 rebounds.
The Bulldogs, however, were 0 for 12 from 3-point range and were not the same team after the first quarter, which ended with an 18-18 tie.
“I knew then that they were getting tired,” Ricci said. “I could see it in their faces.”
Irvington will look to regroup on Wednesday when it travels to Edgemont.
Ossining will be tested again this week. The Pride take on Section 1’s favorite in Class C, Hamilton, on Friday.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com
Watch a replay of the Irvington-Ossining game on MSG Varsity iO Ch. 14 on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m.