One doesn’t need to watch Chastin Giles play for long to realize that she didn’t pick up a basketball for the first time last week.
Giles, a freshman point guard for the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School girls basketball team, is a work in progress, and the Monarchs love the way she is progressing.
Last season Giles joined the varsity team as a promising eighth-grader who saw a decent amount of playing time, but was watched carefully by the coaching staff.
Coach Meaghan Macarthur said: “When she came to us last year, we knew she was something special, but she was an eighth-grader … so we knew that it was going to take time and that she has those skills but it’s learning when to use certain things and how to refine them, and now it’s starting to happen halfway through the season and it’s like a light bulb went on in her brain, too, and it makes our team better.”
Giles started the season on the bench, but evidently wasn’t content with being a reserve player. So, she approached Macarthur and expressed her frustration with that role. Macarthur recalled, “I told her she needed to prove it to me, and in a game she did, and I said, ‘You earned your spot,’ and she’s kept it from there.”
Macarthur could tell Giles was excited about the opportunity. “She gets a little smirk,” said Macarthur.
Last Thursday night Giles made her third straight start and performed impressively in a 48-24 home win over Stony Brook. She swished a three-pointer in the first quarter for her only points of the game, but it was the impact she made with her quick hands and feet that made a difference, along with her ball-handling and passing skills. A virtual steal machine, Giles made 10 steals to go with three rebounds and two assists.
She brought the sort of energy that Macarthur values. “She’s got all the skills in the world,” the coach said. “She’s got quick hands, she’s got good passes, she’s got good ball handling, but the energy and spark she brings, it ignites our team. We feed off of her.”
Macarthur added, “She’s already good, but she has the potential to be an unbelievable player.”
Aside from having her name announced during pregame introductions, Giles said there really hasn’t been much of a difference for her being a starter as compared to coming off the bench. “I get pretty much the same amount of playing time,” she said.
Giles, an East Hampton resident who has played basketball since she was in sixth grade, said: “I’m trying to improve, trying to work on my game and trying to help the team get better.”
Teammates say she is doing just that.
“She’s doing really good,” junior guard Olivia Kneski said. “She has her confidence out there because we all know the abilities that she has. She knows the game and she’s really comfortable out there. She’s been playing for a long time and she just loves the game. She shows that when she’s out there on the court.”
What is the biggest lesson Giles has learned over the course of her first two varsity seasons?
“Just to be more confident and try to make everyone better,” she said. “It’s a team sport.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy freshman Chastin Giles drives past Stony Brook’s Jessica Nwachukwu. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)