Oyster Bay led by one point with 4.8 seconds left when Gianna Gotti was fouled. She took a breath, made both free throws and secured a 54-51 win over host East Rockaway on Thursday night in a Nassau ABC girls basketball game.
In her previous trip to the line in the final minute, Gotti missed two free throws. She said that before she made her next two, “I was definitely a little nervous, but I looked to my teammates and they were right there ready to pick me up. That gave me a confidence boost, and I was ready to win this for them.”
Her coach, Sandy Rossen, said: “Gotti is the most prolific scorer, and the fact that she missed those two, she’s entitled. We knew the next two were going in. It wasn’t a question. I trust her implicitly.’’
Gotti had a game-high 24 points, hitting a three to start the game and making 7 of 11 free throws. She also had nine rebounds and nine assists.
The leading rebounder was Elizabeth Reilly, a sophomore filling in for the Baymen’s center, eighth-grader Destini Gaeckler. Reilly had nine points, including two three-pointers in the first quarter, and 10 rebounds.
“I knew if our big wasn’t going to play today I had to step it up and do the job,” said Reilly, who usually plays guard and forward but played forward and center Thursday. “That’s what we did. I told everyone that we were not losing this game. We lost badly to East Rockaway last year and we weren’t letting this one go.”
Going into the fourth quarter, the Baymen (1-1) trailed 41-35, but with 2:27 to play, Gaby Treble (eight points, six rebounds) hit a basket to put the Baymen back in the lead, 48-47. After Treble made a free throw, East Rockaway’s Brooke DeGiulio (19 points) hit two free throws to tie it at 49. Reilly’s free throw put the Baymen up by one again with 1:29 on the clock, but at the 39-second mark, DeGiulio’s layup put the Rocks (0-2) back on top, 51-50.
Treble scored her final two points with 28 seconds left to put Oyster Bay ahead for good at 52-51. On East Rockaway’s next possession, Reilly grabbed a rebound, setting up the final seconds.
“It came down to rebounding and Elizabeth really came up big,” Gotti said. “It’s all about hustle. Whoever hustles the most on the court will win, and I think we did well with that. It was a great team win.”