WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- When it comes to instant offense for Ossining from a non-starter, the Pride can count on Andra Espinoza-Hunter.
Espinoza-Hunter, a seventh-grader at Anne M. Dorner Middle School, has been giving the undefeated Pride a lift every time she enters a game. In her debut at the Westchester County Center, Espinoza-Hunter played with the poise of a senior. Espinoza-Hunter came off the bench and scored 21 points, including six 3-pointers, helping top-seeded Ossining to a runaway, 106-66 win over fourth-seeded John Jay-East Fishkill in a Section 1 Class AA Girls’ Basketball Championship semifinal.
The Pride will play Our Lady of Lourdes, which defeated Carmel, 46-40, in the title game Sunday at 2 p.m. Ossining will be going for its second consecutive title.
Saniya Chong led Ossining with a game-high 33 points. She also chipped in 14 assists, eight steals and six rebounds. Danielle Gervacio added 14 points and Destini Walker contributed 13 points.
“Andra is a tremendous player,” Chong said. “She has the confidence, mentality and intensity. She knows her role and she handles it well.”
After the game, Espinoza-Hunter received a huge hug from her coach, Dan Ricci.
Espinoza-Hunter swished her first 3-pointer with 3:05 remaining in the first half and finished six of eight from behind the arc. Before the game, Espinoza-Hunter received a pep talk from her veteran teammates.
“They hyped me up before the game,” said the soft-spoken Espinoza-Hunter. “They told me not to be nervous. That I should go out there and play the game like it was in our home gym. That made me feel good and that my teammates cared about me and wanted me to do my best.”
During pre-game warm-ups, the astute seventh-grader was practicing her jump shot, looking to acclimate herself with the depth perception.
“I was aiming for the front of the room and my shots were coming up short so I knew I had to shoot the ball with a little more arc,” Espinoza-Hunter said.
Once Espinoza-Hunter began draining 3’s Chong kept feeding her the ball.
“I always look for everyone, but Andra was on fire so I wanted to give her the ball,” Chong said.
Espinoza-Hunter made a trio of 3’s in the second quarter and had 15 points at halftime.
“I knew that being at the County Center, if we won the game we were going to the championship so I knew I had to do my best to help the team,” Espinoza-Hunter said.
John Jay-East Fishkill 13 14 22 17 -- 66
Ossining 36 27 25 18 -- 106
John Jay-EF (66) -- Brittany Gullo 4-9-18, Amber Velasquez 1-0-2, Calli Balfour 11-2-24, Hayley Thoma 3-0-6, Brittany Gregory 4-1-9, Olivia Oppenheim 1-0-2, Rachel Long 2-1-5, Shannon Bennett 0-0-0. Totals: 26-13-66.
Ossining (106) -- Saniya Chong 11-6-33, Danielle Gervacio 4-4-14, Kathryn Polletta 2-3-8, Destini Walker 5-2-13, Jalay Knowles 4-0-8, Andra Espinoza-Hunter 7-1-21, Daniella Ferrao 0-2-2, Alexandra Cristello 3-0-7, Lydia Davis 0-0-0, Madison Strippoli 0-0-0, Valerie Andujar 0-0-0. Totals: 36-18-106.
3-point goals -- JJEF: Gullo; O: Espinoza-Hunter 6, Chong 5, Gervacio 2, Polletta, Cristello, Walker