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Three-Time State Champ Ossining Preparing For Federation Playoffs

Jalay Knowles scored 45 points to lead the Pride to victory in the state title game. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Helen Ishmael has appreciated the mentoring of her teammates. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Alexis Bernardo has won nothing but state titles since joining Ossining. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

OSSINING, N.Y. -- The Ossining High School girls basketball team now has set its sights on the next possible title it can claim.

Newly crowned New York Class AA state champion Ossining returns upstate on Friday to play Long Island Lutheran in the Federation Tournament of Champions at the Times Union Center in Albany at 3 p.m.

Ossining won its third straight New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship Saturday, defeating Rush-Henrietta 76-54 in the title game at Hudson Valley Community College.

"It is a great feeling to win the state championship again," Coach Dan Ricci said. "We have a few kids who were not part of it this year so it's great to see them experience it."

Ricci said the team has to be well prepared and play hard if they want to be successful Friday.

University of Hartford-bound Jalay Knowles poured in a career-high 45 points to lead the way for the Ossining Pride and earn tournament MVP honors. She also had 16 rebounds.

Knowles said she wanted her and her fellow seniors to go out with a bang and gave credit to her teammates for her prolific game.

"I don't make the baskets if my teammates don't get me the ball or get the rebounds," Knowles said. "It's always a team effort."

Knowles said the team will have to give it their all if they want to win Friday.

"We have to play our hardest," Knowles said.

Freshmen Helen Ishmael said the team is fully committed to winning this title.

"We've wanted it all year," Ishmael said. "It's an amazing feeling."

Ishmael said she really enjoyed watching Knowles pour on the points

"She's an amazing player and an amazing teammate," Ishmael said.

As a freshman, Ishmael said she has learned a lot from Knowles and other senior leaders.

"They've taught me so many different things," Ishmael said. "It's been amazing experience."

Knowles said it's important for the seniors to lead the way for the underclassmen.

"I am confident they will be able to lead this team," Knowles said. "We try to set an example."

Ishmael said the team would not have gotten this far if not for the support of the Ossining community.

Junior Alexis Bernardo has only known state titles since she joined the team.

"It's a great feeling to win," Bernardo said. "We are going to work as hard as possible."

Bernardo said the team has to keep pushing and stay focused.

"We want to keep winning," Bernardo said.

Knowles said it hasn't hit her yet that her Ossining basketball career is coming to an end.

"We have another week," Knowles said. "Then I start playing lacrosse."

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