Saniya Chong’s first-half point total would have been a great night for most players, but it wasn’t enough to put Ossining in front of Archbishop Molloy heading into halftime.
Dan Ricci wanted to see more from the junior guard.
“She steps up in the big moments,” the Ossining coach said. “I knew in this atmosphere she’d want to do this. I told her at halftime to step it up, to take the game over.”
What followed was something truly remarkable. Chong scored 27 of her game-high 54 points in the third quarter as Ossining cruised to a 92-75 win against the previously undefeated Stanners at the Francis Lewis Winter Ball in Queens.
Chong was seven points shy of her career high, achieved in the playoffs last year against John Jay. But Sunday’s performance was even more impressive because of the opponent, according to Ricci.
“This is a different level of basketball. I think Molloy is a really good team and they showed it in the first half,” he said. “But when she gets in that zone, there’s no stopping her.”
That’s just what happened in the third quarter. Chong scored in a variety of ways, but she brought the house down with a nonchalant buzzer beating 30-footer to end the third quarter, one of her eight 3-pointers.
“I truly thought I was going to air ball that,” Chong said. “ I don’t know how I made that. It was just incredible for me.”
While Chong might be a known commodity in Section 1, she took New York City by storm, winning over the cynical crowd and even signing autographs afterward. She also had Archbishop Molloy (5-1), ranked No. 8 in New York City by MSG Varsity, beaten at halftime, according to first-year coach Scott Lagas.
“When I brought the girls into the huddle, the first thing I said to them was to turn around and look at the scoreboard,” he said. “Why is everyone’s body language so horrible right now? You have a four-point lead. I think they were almost anticipating this girl going off again in the second half and not being able to stop her.”
They were right.
Lagas said he tried to slow Chong down in a variety of ways, but each time the junior scored the ball. She nearly single-handedly turned a four-point halftime deficit for Ossining (2-0) into a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We tried everything,” Lagas said. “I asked the kids in the locker room to raise their hand if they tried to guard her and seven girls raised their hands…There was no stopping her.”
Chong, who has offers from Ohio State, Louisville, Marist and Hofstra, as well as interest from Virginia Tech, wasn’t just an unstoppable scoring machine. She also had seven assists, six rebounds and five steals in a well-rounded super human effort.
When Chong would get double-teamed, she found Danielle Gervacio (13 points), seventh-grader Andra Espinoza-Hunter (11 points) and freshman Destini Walker (10 points).
“The points were awesome, but it’s not about the points,” Chong said. “It’s about playing for my team and trying to come up here with a win. I just worked really hard.”
On almost any other day, Molloy junior Carolyn Gallagher, who scored 34 points, would have been the story. But on Sunday, that was only second best.
“It was like a circus,” Lagas said of Chong. “She was amazing.”
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