Gianna Gotti said she had the option to leave the Oyster Bay girls basketball team this offseason to play for a private school.
Others in her shoes might have jumped at the opportunity, especially considering the inexperience of the Oyster Bay roster. But Gotti’s dedication to the Baymen never wavered.
“This is her school; this is her house,” said coach Sandy Rossen. “She wants to win with the kids that we have. She’s doing everything she can to help them along the way.”
And now she’s been rewarded.
After scoring 34 points in a 50-47 non-league win over Sacred Heart on Wednesday in which she scored each of her team’s 19 first-half points, Gotti became Oyster Bay’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball, passing Erin Eagan (1,290), who played four varsity seasons from 1995-1998.
Gotti, a junior who first played varsity in eighth grade, now has 1,318 points thanks to a diverse skill set which includes a lethal three-point shot.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Gotti said. “To be able to go down in history at your school is a big deal.”
The guard has been one of the most prolific scorers on Long Island in recent years, averaging 20.4 and 26.5 points per game in her freshman and sophomore seasons. She’s averaging 29.8 points through five games this winter.
Hence the obvious interest from private schools. It was a route Gotti almost took in eighth grade, she said, but she ultimately decided to give Oyster Bay a try. That’s all it took to convince her to stay.
“In eighth grade, I was thinking about going to private school,” she said. “But the team that we had and the coaching we had, I just had a connection to them. They became a family. You don’t leave family.”
Following a successful 15-6 season that culminated in a 62-58 loss in overtime to Carle Place in the Nassau B final, Oyster Bay (2-3) has struggled to find consistency.
The graduation of three seniors left holes on the roster, and inexperienced players have been asked to step into larger roles. Gotti, now a third-year captain, has been tasked with bringing it together.
“She puts a massive amount of pressure on herself,” Rossen said. “She knew that we lost three seniors and that she would have to carry this team. She’s trying to do everything to make it easier for everybody else.”
Her own ability to grow as a player has been tested, as defenses have keyed in on her as the clear scoring threat. She has faced a variety of pressures — including double- and triple-teams — and working through those defenses hasn’t been easy.
But Gotti is still scoring and doing everything in her power to make her teammates better in the process.
After all, she had the opportunity to leave. The thought never crossed her mind.