Chastin Giles moved to the Sag Harbor School District after a promising freshman season playing point guard at Mercy High School in Riverhead. In an instant, she became a small-town girl with big-time dreams.
“I was very nervous yet excited at the same time,” Giles, now a junior, said about enrolling at Pierson. “Katie Kneeland was on my AAU (American Athletic Union) team, so luckily there was someone I already knew, which made the transition that much easier. It still took some getting used to, however. I was just myself so I acclimated quickly.”
During the offseason, Giles plays for an AAU team called the Long Island Renegades, which practices twice a week in Dix Hills. She plays soccer in the fall and is a dedicated student who sees a future studying health sciences in college and going on to work as a personal trainer.
With Giles and Kneeland leading the charge this season, Pierson has rattled off 11 straight wins to sit atop the League VI standings with a perfect 10-0 record (11-3 overall).
The Lady Whalers dominated their last two opponents with wins last week over Hampton Bays and Center Moriches by an average margin of 38.5 points per game. With just six regular-season contests remaining, the team has championships on its mind.
“Our goals this season as a team would be to remain undefeated, better ourselves every time we step on the court and eventually go to states,” said Giles, an all-around point guard averaging 12 points, six assists, five steals and five rebounds per game “Personally, I want to improve my shooting skills from the outside, as well as lay-ups, and limit my turnovers. My greatest goal, however, is to do all I can to help my team get to states.”
That journey — to the New York State Public High School girls basketball championships at Hudson Valley Community College in mid-March — will be slightly less difficult this year because there is no other Class C school in Suffolk County. But still, the challenge of vying for a regional or state championship remains far off. The team right now is focused on winning a league championship, a battle that continues on Friday as the Lady Whalers, along with the school’s boys basketball team, host Spirit Night at Pierson High School, with the Lady Whalers kicking things off with a game against Port Jefferson at 4:30 p.m.
“We are incredibly strong, both on and off the court,” Giles said when asked about her team. “We are a very close-knit team. When we all work together and just play our game, I feel as though we are truly unstoppable.”
Giles had 12 points and 10 assists in a 52-18 win over Hampton Bays on January 16, and came back a day later to dish out 15 assists in a 55-12 win over Center Moriches. Clearly those teams are having off seasons, but the chemistry on the Lady Whalers side is palpable.
“She’s making these great passes,” Pierson head coach Kevin Barron said about Giles. “They’re passes I haven’t seen made by any opponent or player I’ve ever had. She gets the ball to where it needs to be, and she can score.”
Barron, who has called the depth on this year’s team one of its greatest strengths, said Giles constantly works to improve her game on the court. He also said she has a great personality, is funny and fiercely competitive, which makes her a natural leader.
“She has developed great chemistry on the court with her teammates,” said Barron, whose lineup goes eight or nine players deep. “She has made many of them better offensive players because of the different ways she can get them the ball. She loves everything about basketball.”
“I would love to play basketball at the next level,” she said, adding that one of the challenges of playing at Pierson is how remote she feels from the eyes of college coaches. “This is one of the reasons that AAU is so important to me. It takes me outside of Sag Harbor’s bubble and places me somewhere with that many more chances for exposure.”
Giles is a vegan and is highly dedicated to training herself and others. She works with younger Pierson players and wants to leave the program in even better shape than when she arrived in 2017.
“I hope to keep my grades up and continue to play basketball at a college that I love,” Giles said about her future before turning her focus back to the here and now. “But then again, every day counts and it is important to first focus on the present — get better, get stronger and go from there.”