Excuse Gianna Gotti if she looked tired after she scored 29 points and led No. 3 Oyster Bay to an impressive 56-35 win over No. 2 Malverne in a Nassau Class B girls basketball semifinal Saturday.
“I’ve been up all night, thinking about this game,” said Gotti, who added six rebounds, three steals and three assists. “I was in bed by 10 p.m., but this happens every time we have a big game.”
Which is interesting, because she probably causes opposing coaches — and teams — sleepless nights, too.
“She doesn’t sleep,” Baymen coach Sandy Rossen said. “She puts everything on her back every single game.”
Gotti certainly put Oyster Bay (6-14) on her back most of the afternoon at SUNY-Old Westbury against a Malverne team it had lost to twice in the regular season.
The 5-5 guard scored 12 points to lead the Baymen to a 24-21 halftime lead. Mules 5-11 center Alexis Lake carried Malverne (7-13) in the first half and had 19 points and eight rebounds before the break.
But Rossen made a key halftime adjustment against Lake. He wanted to double-team her with one defender in front and another behind. The job fell to three players: starters Elizabeth Reilly and Lindsey Tiberia, and Savannah Augustine, who came off the bench.
It worked. Lake became frustrated and did not make a field goal in the second half. Oyster Bay outscored Malverne, 20-5, in the third quarter (including nine points from Gotti) to take a 44-26 lead.
Lake scored just one point in the second half which came on a free throw with 2:54 remaining. She finished with 12 rebounds. Keyeria Dawson (nine points) and Diana Jean (six) were the only other Mules to score.
Catherine Kelly had nine points and Reilly added eight points and 10 rebounds for Oyster Bay.
“They did a good job on Dawson and [Lake],” Malverne coach Lorenzo Jenkins sad. “We couldn’t get our offense going.”
Jenkins had another thought on why his team didn’t win: Gotti. “She just wanted it more,” he said. “She got it done.”
Rossen will worry later about how Gotti will rest before the Baymen meet two-time defending champion Carle Place for the third time in four seasons for the Nassau B title. The game is at noon Thursday at SUNY-Old Westbury. But how should Gotti feel Saturday night?
“She should sleep,” Rossen said, “like a baby.”
Rest up, Gotti.