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JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. – The tallest players in the Pearl River starting five are seniors Christy Carty and Christa Scognamiglio, who both stand at just 5-foot-9. Needless to say, the Pirates are outsized against the majority of squads they face.
But it never seems to matter much. Pearl River makes up for the size difference with speed, toughness and intensity.
From the opening tip on Tuesday, the Pirates’ abilities were on full display in a 61-33 win over Section 4’s Owego Free Academy in the Class A regional semifinals at Johnson City High School.
Owego consistently struggled to handle Pearl River’s 2-2-1 full-court press. The tenacious Pirates swiped 24 steals as a team.
Pearl River (21-2) started the game on a 9-0 run and never looked back. They led 19-6 after one quarter and held a commanding 37-14 lead at halftime.
“That was our goal, to get a big start,” Pearl River senior forward Kerry Sullivan said. “It calms us down kind of, but we knew during the half it was 0-0 and we had to come out even stronger.”
Even when Owego managed to get past half-court, Pearl River’s active hands helped them force more turnovers.
“We like to pressure the ball when it’s right there so then by the time they get over half-court they don’t have that much time on the shot clock,” said Pearl River senior guard Allison Cook, who scored 12 points. “That helped us.”
Scognamiglio led the way with 18 points, nine rebounds, four steals, six assists and 13 deflections. Junior Missy Scognamiglio contributed nine points, nine rebounds and five steals. Sullivan and Carty both scored eight points. Sullivan had 10 rebounds, eight steals and four assists, while Carty grabbed seven rebounds.
Pearl River held Owego’s leading scorer, 6-3 sophomore Rachel Merrill, to just seven points.
The Pirates move on to the Class A regional final where they will face Section 9’s Red Hook at Mount Saint Mary College on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
“Getting the gold ball was our first goal and now getting to the regional finals is our second goal,” Cook said. “We just know that we have to come out strong on Friday and we hope to win.”
“We want to go to states, but we know we have to take one game at a time,” Sullivan said. “We know Friday’s going to be a big game and we have to play hard in order to win that and go to states.”
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter @MSGV_RJD