Let's go back to October 2013 . . .
There was an open-gym basketball session at Oyster Bay, and in walked a quiet eighth-grader, admittedly nervous and "really not expecting to make an impression." Except she did. Varsity players were "shocked" at the skills displayed, "amazed" by her aggressiveness.
"It took about three minutes to realize that kid was special," coach Sandy Rossen said. "But I didn't even know her name. I just heard people yelling, 'Gee!' "
It was Gianna Gotti's nickname being shouted. But a year later, as the accolades pile, it also can be used in exclamation, as in: Gee, what a player!
Gotti continued her torrid run Tuesday with 23 points, seven steals and six assists in leading Oyster Bay over host Uniondale, 62-53, in a non-league matchup.
Keva Green-Knox added 16 points and 14 rebounds for Oyster Bay (4-2). Christina Testa scored 13 points and Stephanie Mattocks had 10.
"It's a big win because we're a small school and they're in [Class AA]," Gotti, a freshman point guard, said of Uniondale. "We had something to prove."
Oyster Bay took control with a dominant first quarter and withstood a late surge, avenging last season's 73-61 loss to the Knights. Gotti's steal and layup pushed their lead to 17-4 with 1:43 left in the opening period.
"Getting off to such a great start surprised even us a little because Uniondale is good," said Green-Knox, who along with Mattocks provided strong interior defense. "Once we got going, it gave everyone more confidence."
Gotti had 11 points and three steals in the second half to seal the win. That tireless style -- hounding defense, relentless penetration and her ability to finish through contact -- "has always been my game," Gotti said. It earned her an immediate promotion to varsity last year, and she led Oyster Bay to the Nassau Class B title.
"At the open-gym night, everyone was amazed at how aggressive she was and she had the maturity of a senior," Testa said. "And she's gotten better."
Testa, too, has expanded her game. She hit one three-pointer but did most of her damage driving to the basket. Sakara Hester-Torres had 20 points and Ashley Jara 12 for Uniondale (3-3).
The Knights cut the lead to 34-27 at halftime, but Gotti started the third quarter with a 6-0 run. Jara's three pulled Uniondale within 55-49 with 1:11 left, but Gotti sank a floater 10 seconds later.
"She's amazing," Rossen said. "It seems like at least once a game, Gee does something that makes you say, 'Wow.' "