By Mike Zacchio
Ossining’s Saniya Chong was called into the coach’s office Thursday — to find out from Dan Ricci that she was selected as this season’s New York state Gatorade girls basketball player of the year.
“I was completely surprised; I didn’t even know my name was in the mix so I was pretty happy,” Chong said. “As soon as I got out (of Ricci’s office), I actually got a couple of texts saying, ‘Congrats,’ so it was a pretty good day.”
Chong (pictured right) is the first Section 1 recipient of the Gatorade girls player of the year since the award was founded in 1985-86,
Mount Vernon’s Jonathan Mitchell (2005-06) and Peekskill’s Elton Brand (1996-97) have won the New York state Gatorade boys player of the year.
The honor adds to the UConn-bound senior’s already impressive resume, which consists of numerous state records, and a high school all-America selection by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Chong and Lexi Martins of Irvington are also finalists for the yet-to-be-announced Miss New York Basketball, which will be chosen by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York.
Chong, Section 1’s all-time leading scorer, will play in the annual WBCA All-American game on April 6 at the New Orleans Arena, the site of this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Chong won’t be the only Section 1 representative at the All-American game. Irvington coach Gina Maher, the winningest coach in Section 1 history, will be an assistant for the opposing team.
Irvington has a 21-2 record, with both losses coming at the hands of Ossining.
“I joke around with Gina saying that she’s going to have three losses this year, and they’re all going to be against Saniya,” Ricci said. “When all is said and done, it’s a great honor for Gina, as well as Saniya.”
But first there’s unfinished business. Both Ossining, in Class AA, and Irvington, in Class B, have NYSPHSAA final four games to play this weekend.
Chong is averaging 35 points, 9.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.7 steals per game this season. She is 99 points shy of 3,000 for her four years on the varsity.
Ossining will play Sachem East of Section 11 in the state semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy Friday at 6:15 p.m. The Pride have never won a state title.