When Woody Kneeland first saw Chastin Giles as a seventh-grader on the Mercy varsity basketball team, he thought one thing: “Let’s figure out a way to stop her.”
“She’s a very tough, passionate kid,” Kneeland said. “I knew she had an endless motor, and that’s the first thing I noticed about her. She just never stops. That was my concern from the get-go. How are we going to keep up with her energy?”
So, when Mercy closed its doors and Giles chose to transfer to Pierson, the head coach was happy to have her with him than against him. Now a senior, the point guard is ranked among the Top 20 scorers in Suffolk County, and with her game-high 23 points at home in a 60-27 win over Smithtown Christian January 30, Giles reached a career milestone: 1000 points.
“My coaches told me at the beginning of the season that it was possible, and it was always in the back of my head, but every game it was more about scoring to win,” Giles said. “It’s nice to set goals for yourself and actually reach them, and I’m excited for my name to be in the gym, but it’s truly just because of my teammates and coaches. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them.”
The senior first picked up a basketball when she was in fourth grade, thinking it would be fun.
“I’ve always been into sports,” Giles said. “I’d go to the park and play. It was the easiest sport to practice by yourself. I got a hoop when I was eight and played outside for hours.”
It became so much more than fun, though. And that fanatical practicing is something Kneeland still sees her do today.
“She puts in the most outside effort. She’s the hardest working kid on the team,” Kneeland said. “She’s at every open gym. She always has a basketball in her hand. Today is Sunday and she’s in the gym shooting for two hours, so this accomplishment is well-deserved.”
Because of that work ethic, Giles has helped lead Pierson to another postseason appearance. The Whalers, 12-8 overall and 11-5 in League VII, automatically earned the Class C title and compete against the Class B champion February 25 at St. Joseph’s College at 5:30 PM en route to a chance to compete for the small school and overall Suffolk County title. Regardless of that outcome, Pierson will play in the regional final March 15 at St. Joseph’s College.
“There are just so many skills you need to work on in basketball, and it takes so much time to improve at those skills,” Giles said. “I enjoy improving myself as a player. I think everyone falls in love with bettering themselves, and watching their own self growth in anything.”
Kneeland said that mentality came to a head for the team in its season finale 51-40 win over Mattituck February 5.
“It was a complete team effort. It was the best I’ve seen them play all season,” he said, talking about the change in the team’s mentality and ability to work as a unit. “That’s great as we start the playoffs.”
Giles will continue improving upon her 338 points as the playoffs progress. She’d racked up over 75 field goals, 40 three-pointers, and 100 free throws this season.
“She’s definitely come a long way,” Kneeland said. “She was always a really good dribbler, and she’s always had great court vision. Her first thought in basketball on offense is to pass. She’s a true point guard. She wants to help her teammates score. But this year we’ve asked her to possess more of a scorer’s mentality, and she’s embraced this role. She’s done it and everything well.”