CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – A 47-39 win over Yorktown on Senior Night brought the regular season to an end for John Jay girls basketball on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
The Indians, seeded 12th out of 20 teams in the Section 1 Class A tournament, will start their postseason on the road at No. 5 Byram Hills at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21.
But on Senior Night, it was Cornell-bound Kendall Miller who led John Jay with another dominant performance: 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. Nearly all of Miller’s scoring (14 points) was done in the first half, propelling John Jay to a 24-19 halftime lead over visiting Yorktown.
Also contributing to the win, which improved John Jay’s record to 11-9, were Shannon Nolan (10 points, 6 rebounds), Mia Pucci (4 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Sarah Pieratti (9 points, 3 steals).
“Everybody can score on this team,” said Pieratti, a senior guard.
Despite the win, the Indians started slow against Yorktown, failing to get on the board until Miller sank two free throws with 1:35 left in the first quarter. She followed that up with a three pointer, cutting the deficit to 6-5 after one.
The center let it ride by scoring 7 of John Jay’s next 9 points, while also providing a long assist to Shannon Nolan on the fast break.
Still, Yorktown held steady by matching John Jay’s good inside out play and efficient ball movement. Artesa Gashi answered Miller’s opening second quarter three with one of her own, and the Huskers got back within 1 when Melissa Severino caught Gashi cutting to the hoop for an easy layup.
Yorktown would then pull even at 17 on Severino’s baseline drive, but Miller and company weren’t yet done for the half. A short baseline jumper and a reverse layup by Miller provided the bookends to a Kelly Nolan three and opened up the John Jay lead to 24-17.
Foul shots by Severino closed the half at 24-19, and Yorktown soon regained the lead after the intermission. Yorktown’s Jesse Barer, who tallied 15 points in the game, opened the third with a few baskets, giving Yorktown a 29-27 edge.
Miller evened the score on a put back, but Yorktown’s Ashley Zeolla and Barer scored the next 5 points. With no more points to come from their star center, the Indians were forced to find scoring elsewhere.
So, it was Pieratti who made good on her boast. Two threes from her regained the lead for John Jay at 36-34 and tear-drop layup maintained the lead at 38-37 going into the fourth.
“She’s our facilitator, she’s our ball handler, she plays defense, she does it all,” Coach Matt Gallagher said of Pieratti.
John Jay didn’t let up in the fourth. Puccio hit a tear-drop of her own and a three by Shannon Nolan opened the lead to 43-37. The final nail came after Kelly Nolan missed a three from the corner. Puccio was left all alone under the basket and had nothing but the rim in front of her.
Admitting she was afraid to miss the easy conversion, the guard was elated at sending the seniors off with a win in their last home game.
“I was happy to be able to finish off the game,” Puccio said.
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