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Ossining Girls Win Regional Finals vs. Binghamton

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Ossining is headed to the state semifinals.

The Pride will be one of the final four teams playing for the girl’s New York State Class AA Championship. Ossining earned revenge over Binghamton to win the regional championship, 90-76. The Patriots defeated the Pride in the same round last year.

Saniya Chong had another predictably magnificent performance as she tallied 39 points, eight assists and four rebounds

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Chong said. “We came back in here for revenge because, obviously, we lost last year, so we were really striving for it and hoping.”

Chong impressed nearly everyone in attendance, and hopefully left a mark on University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who was in attendance to scout the guard.

“That’s awesome. It just shows you how far our program’s come and how far Saniya’s come,” said Ossining Head Coach Dan Ricci. “UConn only recruits quality people. Saniya’s a quality kid.

Even with arguably the best college women’s basketball coach in the country in attendance, Chong insisted she did not get rattled.

“It’s not a big thing about pressure,” Chong said. “I get little jitters when I’m outside, but once I step on the court, I’m fine.

The Ossining fans in attendance chanted “Goodbye Geno!” as the coach left the Goldstein Fitness Center.

Ossining actually struggled out of the gate and was behind, 7-4, to start the game and 13-12 at the 3:29 mark of the first quarter. The Pride held a small lead, 31-25, at the end of the first quarter.

But in the second quarter, the Pride blew the game open. A layup from Chong gave Ossining a 41-29 lead with 5:08 remaining in the second quarter. She drained a three from the top of the arc with a little more than a minute to go to extend the lead to 20 points.

Ossining led, 53-36, at the half and 68-52 at the end of the third quarter. Binghamton was never able to cut the lead to single digits.

The second quarter was the turning point, and Ricci said Chong was not the only catalyst for the Pride’s surge.

“Everybody’s going to say it’s Saniya, but it was other kids making shots. Kathryn Polletta, Destini Walker, Jalay Knowles,” Ricci said. “A lot of kids stepped up today.”

Ossining, though undefeated, now faces a tall order in the state semifinals in Cicero-North Syracuse’s 6’4” forward Breanna Stewart, whom Ricci called “probably the best player in the country.”

Knowles, who had a great game of her own Friday, will have to guard Stewart, and Ricci did not sugarcoat what a tough task that will be.

“She’s going to have to play huge against Breanna, but it’s going to be a team effort,” Ricci said. “Nobody’s going to stop Breanna Stewart, just like nobody could stop Saniya Chong. It’s going to be Ossining against Cicero-North (Syracuse), not those two (players).”

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