During a toy donation before the game, Gianna Gotti and her teammates were in quite the giving mood.
During the game, it was quite the opposite.
Gotti showed tenacity on the defensive end, swiping seven of her team’s 16 steals, and creativity on the offensive end, scoring 26 points, to lead Oyster Bay to a 63-53 win over Plainedge in the final of the Lady Baymen Holiday Tournament.
“That is normal for her,” Oyster Bay coach Sandy Rossen said. “It’s not unheard of for her to score six or eight points in 15 seconds. She creates a lot of turnovers and scores quickly.”
That was the case in the second quarter as Gotti’s pressure defense forced turnover after turnover, helping her to score 12 points in the quarter. After her crossover dribble created some separation, she quickly released and hit a straightaway three to give Oyster Bay a 29-18 lead with 4:50 remaining in the half.
“I just sit back and read the offense,” Gotti said.
Gotti and Desiree Gaeckler, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds, each scored eight points during a 25-10 third quarter that blew the game open. Faith Smith delivered an inbounds pass to Gaeckler under the basket for the easy bucket to open a 15-point lead. On the next possession, Gaeckler kicked it out to a wide open Smith, who drained the three for a 51-33 lead. Smith’s hesitation dribble drive for the layup opened a 61-38 lead heading into the fourth.
“We’re very court aware, that helps us,” said Gaeckler, a 5-11 transfer from Our Lady of Mercy. “We are meshing really well together.”
Kelsey Marigliano and Katie McSweeney each had 15 points for Plainedge.
Christina Testa scored all 11 of her points in the first half for Oyster Bay. Smith, who Rossen said “epitomizes unselfishness,” finished with seven points and 10 assists. “I like to make my teammates better,” Smith said. “That’s my job.”
Of late, Smith and her teammates have made it their job to help the less fortunate by collaborating with the Gardiner Foundation, which assists underprivileged families in the Bronx.
A few days before Thanksgiving, the Baymen teamed with the Freeport girls basketball team to hand out 600 turkeys to those in need. Yesterday, the teams involved in the tournament — Oyster Bay, Plainedge, Roosevelt and Locust Valley — donated bags of toys and books to the foundation.
“It’s a great feeling,” Gotti said, “because you get to play the game you love and also help those who are in need.”