"Pearl River senior Christa Scognamiglio started Saturday's home game against Burke Catholic believing she needed to score 18 points to break Denise McGuire's career scoring record.
That is why she was so confused when her teammates started congratulating her after her driving basket with 4:39 left in the first quarter, only her second and third points of the game.
"I had no idea," Scognamiglio said. "I didn’t know I was only three away. I still thought it was 18. After I made that layup, Allison (Cook is) patting me on the stomach and I think Christy (Carty) said, ‘You got it.' I was so confused. Everyone knew I needed three points but I didn’t know."
Scognamiglio passed McGuire's previous school record of 1,476 career points on that first-quarter layup as part of Pearl River's 63-29 victory at home against Burke Catholic, but she and many of the fans in attendance did not know it at first thanks to a little protective trickery by Pearl River Coach Lorraine Moylan.
Moylan told everybody, including the local media and her own players, that Scognamiglio entered the game needing 18 points to set the record when it was only three as a way to take some pressure off her player. She told Scognamiglio's teammates, including younger sister Marissa, before the game.
"Definitely to keep the pressure off," Moylan said. "It’s a big milestone. She’s such a smart kid, sensitive. I think would really affect her. She’s trying to do the right thing by her teammates and by us. It’s just a lot of pressure for a kid. If we can make it easier sometimes, it’s a good thing."
"Going into today, everyone thought it was 18," Marissa Scognamiglio said. "When I got to the gym, she told me it was three. I texted my mom and dad and told them it was three. I think she told Nicole (Grossbard), too."
The ball went out of bounds just a few seconds after the record-breaking shot and the Pirates mobbed Scognamiglio. Her family came out to join her in the celebration and McGuire's father, Donald, congratulated her. Announcer Jo Mosella read comments Denise McGuire made to Patch about Scognamiglio breaking the record.
Scognamiglio, a two-time all-state selection who has signed to play Division I college basketball at Fairfield, has tried to deflect individual honors, but admitted the approach to the school record made her nervous.
"I was nervous yesterday (a 50-14 victory at Nyack)," Scognamiglio said. "I was even more nervous today. It kept going through my mind I needed 18 points. Once got it, I was so relieved.
"It means a lot. I’m really happy for myself I got it I couldn’t have done it without so many people. My parents. Coach Moylan is definitely a huge factor. All my teammates. So many great players I got to play with. I’d say Kerry (Sullivan) and Nicole (Grossbard) in particular since I have been playing with them since eighth grade. And playing with my sister makes it more special. Overall, it’s just so great."
Grossbard played on the varsity with Scognamiglio for four seasons before having to sit out this year with a knee injury.
"I’m so proud of her," Grossbard said. "She worked so hard for this. It’s incredible to be part of the four years I got to play with her. I owe her a lot. She’s made me into a much better player. She’s a great person. I’m so happy for her."
"It’s so good. It’s so awesome," Moylan said. "I was nervous today, too. You really want her to see her do it. I got to watch Denise start her career and I got to see Christa do this."
Pearl River still had a game to win, but that seemed to be over almost as quickly as Scognamiglio's pursuit of the scoring record. The Pirates dominated the first quarter, building a 26-3 lead, on the way to an easy victory.
Christa Scognamiglio scored all seven of her points in that first quarter. Cook led the Pirates with 12 points, while Marissa Scognamiglio finished with 10.
"We didn’t come out strong yesterday, so today we needed to pick it up," Marissa Scognamiglio said. "We did a good job of that."
Moylan was not happy with how the Pirates (12-1) played Friday at Nyack, but saw a much better performance Saturday.
"They knew they had to and they really wanted to do it for her," Moylan said. "It's a big milestone and they wanted to be a part of it."v