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L.I. Lutheran's Boogie Brozoski has taken to mentoring Celeste Taylor

Long Island Lutheran's Lauren

Long Island Lutheran's Lauren "Boogie" Brozoski handles the ball on offense in a game against East Side (N.J.) at Long Island Lutheran Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

Celeste Taylor was in disbelief, mouth agape as she sat just feet away from her basketball idol. Like a star-struck fan in the presence of a celebrity, the eighth-grader quickly reached for her cellphone and secretly recorded Lauren "Boogie" Brozoski.

Was the Long Island Lutheran superstar in action on the court? Was she speaking? Nope!

"She was going, 'Hmm-hmm, hmmmm, hmm-mmm,'" Taylor said, giggling as she mimicked the sound Brozoski made. "She was randomly humming tunes. And they weren't even real songs; she was making them up as she went along."

This was at the dinner table of the Brozoski home in Queens during a sleepover. And that isn't the only recording Taylor has of Boogie that captures the senior in candid -- and slightly embarrassing -- moments.

Those videos are in stark contrast with the image of Brozoski the public knows: smooth, in control and always guarded -- on and off the court.

"She always has her phone in her hand so she catches me doing weird stuff," Brozoski said, smiling. "But it's cool because I know I can be myself around her."

The two have forged a bond that extends well beyond basketball tutelage, so much so that each refers to the other as "my sister." This friendship goes all the way back to September . . . as in three months ago.

It seems an odd pairing: A University of Michigan-bound senior with a sparkling resume and a middle-schooler who transferred to Lutheran after playing on the Valley Stream South varsity as a seventh-grader.

But during strength and conditioning training as they prepared for basketball season, Brozoski and Taylor were partnered up, and the seeds of a friendship immediately were planted.

"I don't have siblings, so Cee is my little sister," said Brozoski, 17. "When you see so much potential in someone, you want to help guide them in the right direction. I've been in her shoes and she reminds me of myself a little."

So in this final act of a high school career in which Brozoski already has accomplished so much, she has taken on a new role: the elder -- an experienced sage offering counsel.

"It's to the point now where our best players are the seniors," coach Rich Slater said, referring to Brozoski, Taylor Byrne, Nani Redford and Erin Storck. "The next step for them is becoming more involved and teaching the younger kids . . . Celeste came in bright-eyed like, 'I wanna be like Boogie.' ''

Brozoski crossed over and stutter-stepped into the spotlight as an eighth-grade point guard and quickly emerged as the Crusaders' star. The championships, accolades and attention soon followed.

Taylor was in elementary school, a basketball fledgling, but heard all about Brozoski and admired from afar. "Everybody was talking about her and she was getting major Division I looks," said Taylor, an athletic 5-9 guard. "I became a fan then and always thought it would be awesome to play with her."

The opportunity arose -- and they finally met -- during the summer when Taylor enrolled at Long Island Lutheran. She was adjusting to a new school and being the new kid on a star-studded championship team. But any trepidation was allayed when Brozoski reached out to her.

"Knowing someone looks up to me means a lot," said Brozoski, a two-time Long Island Player of the Year. "In a way, it motivates you to be more conscious of doing the right things and being a role model."

Lessons Brozoski has imparted include the importance of maintaining high grades, showing discretion and having unwavering confidence. There are parts of Brozoski's game, too, that Taylor would like to emulate -- in particular "her physicality, how she finishes through contact, and the overall toughness."

Brozoski's toughness is a signature. She has overcome a broken hip and two nasal fractures without ever missing a game. Her mettle already is on display this season as she returns from a sprained ACL suffered in an exhibition game in October. After a monthlong recuperation, Brozoski insists she is ready.

The goal for the Crusaders, of course, is to defend their state Federation Class AA title, and this group appears equipped to do so.

Brozoski, who averaged 19.5 points and 6.1 assists, said there are several areas in which she can improve and has set lofty goals for herself. Among them: McDonald's All-American honors and Gatorade Player of the Year, for which she was nominated last season.

"Everybody knows Boogie's great, but I'm more impressed now that I know her," Taylor said. "The skills are obvious, but now I get to see the kind of person she is and all the little things she does behind the scenes."

And a lot of them have been recorded.

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