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SportsHigh SchoolGirls Basketball

Katie Kneeland, Pierson advance to small schools championship

The senior hits 1,000-point plateau while scoring 19 against Mattituck. 

Pierson's Katie Kneeland puts one up over Mattituck's

Pierson's Katie Kneeland puts one up over Mattituck's Rachel Janis in the first quarter during the Suffolk Class BCD girls basketball final on Wednesday at Centereach. Photo Credit: Bob Sorensen

Everything was coming up Mattituck.

In what Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island girls basketball coach Kevin Barron called his team’s worst quarter of the season, Mattituck rapidly overcame a 12-point deficit and took a one-point lead in Wednesday night’s Suffolk BCD championship game in Centereach.

Barron, having already burned through several timeouts, opted to let his Whalers figure it out on the court. This way, he said, he could save timeouts for a crucial fourth quarter.

Katie Kneeland eventually ended the spurt with a layup, and with 4:21 left in the fourth quarter, Chastin Giles’ wide-open three-pointer from the left wing broke a tie at 39 and the Whalers went on to a 46-41 victory.

“I just kind of let them fall apart a little bit,” Barrons said. “I was trying to help them as much as I could from the sideline, but I made that decision that I wasn’t going to burn any more timeouts because I knew I was going to need them.”

Pierson (19-3), which defeated Mattituck (17-5) twice during the regular season, advances to the Suffolk small schools championship on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Whitman. Mattituck, which won the Suffolk Class B championship, will play against the Cold Spring Harbor-Carle Place winner in the Long Island Class B championship game on March 6  at Farmingdale State.

Kneeland (19 points), a senior who has been on varsity for five years, scored her 1,000th point on a free throw with 32.7 seconds left in the first quarter. She now has 1,014 points and is the third player in program history to accomplish the feat, Barron said.

“It didn’t really feel any different,” Kneeland said of the 1,000th point. “It’s just, finally, I get to take away some really huge accomplishment from that.”

Mackenzie Hoeg (14 points) hit a runner for Mattituck with just a few seconds left in the third quarter, sending the game into the fourth quarter tied at 36. Mattituck had trailed 33-21 before a blistering 13-0 run sparked but a three-quarter-court trap defense, giving the Tuckers a 34-33 lead.

“I think their press really got us on our toes, got us frazzled,” Giles said.

Giles split a pair of free throws to put Pierson ahead 37-36, but Jaden Thompson responded with a three-pointer from the right wing for Mattituck. 

Trailing 39-37, Pierson tied the score when Kneeland shovel-passed to Celia Barranco, who finished down low with 5:35 remaining. Giles’ three-pointer put Pierson ahead, 42-39.

Mattituck cut the deficit to 42-41 on Sarah Santacroce’s layup, but Giles (14 points) converted a runner from the left side on the next possession. Giles then assisted Kneeland for the game-sealing basket with 1:12 left.

Said Kneeland: “We knew we just had to push through.”

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