One of the more cliche things in sports is talking about déjà vu moments. Teams play familiar opponents and wins and losses go both ways so similarities between games and moments can at times be overstated. However, there's no exaggerating the similarities of Tuesday's game between North Shore and Lynbrook with the last time the teams met in the Class A quarterfinals in February.
In February's game, which Lynbrook won 69-68, North Shore led 20-15 after the first and 43-29 at the half. Lynbrook roared back in the third and the game was tied 52-52. North Shore regained the lead early in the fourth then the Owls took over with less than four minutes to play. The Vikings had countless chances in the final minute but could not score and Lynbrook moved on.
On Tuesday North Shore led 23-19 after the first and 41-34 at half before Lynbrook came up big again in the third and took the lead 52-50. The Vikings regained the lead with 6:15 to play and this time they flipped the script and held on to win, 69-63. Amanda Johansen had 13 of her team-high 23 points in the fourth, the biggest coming on a put back off a missed free throw by Erin Sheerin (17 points) with 39.7 seconds left which gave North Shore a 67-63 lead.
The biggest difference, aside from the outcome of the two games, was how poorly North Shore shot from 3-point range (4-for-36) on Tuesday. While the Vikings were a respectable 22-for-54 from inside the arc, they could not get into a groove from long range whether the shots were open or highly contested. In February, the Vikings could not miss from long range early on while on a 17-2 run before cooling off a bit later on. Also, there were nine lead changes Tuesday compared to just one in February.
Brooke Gerstman showed why she is one of, if not the best player in Nassau this year, scoring a game-high 27 points for Lynbrook. While Gerstman was somewhat neutralized in the second half while being face-guarded relentlessly, she also was on the court pretty much the entire time. North Shore coach Keith Freund called Gerstman "the best player in Nassau County" and Johansen said Gerstman is "by far" the best player she's ever played against in basketball.
North Shore coach Keith Freund:
On Lynbrook and Brooke Gerstman:
They’re so good and that girl is so unbelievable. She’s the best player in Nassau County in my opinion.
On defeating Lynbrook after last year's losses:
We missed a lot of layups in the third and fourth quarter. It felt like watching the same game over again. It’s not even the 3s we missed it’s the layups we missed. They really responded well in the fourth quarter. It was a great game, what a way to start a season. It felt like last year. We’re never really a good third quarter team, we’re not.
On shooting porrly from 3-point range:
I hate when coaches say ‘we didn’t shoot the ball well.’ It had something to do with their defense. We got a lot of layups instead. They were really taking our 3-point shots away so we got a lot of layups. We took 36 3’s but we hit four. I would say we were probably 1 for 9 on layups also. It was an ugly first game but I give the credit to their defense.
On why the Vikings waited so long to face-guard Gerstman:
It comes down to also this being the first game of the year and it is December. Of course you want to win but you also want to work on what you do. She had 18 points in the first half and five assists and it was all going through her. I think it was Christine Castiglione, Tara Feehan and Michaela Dussel locked her down and she still scored 9 points.
The funny thing about Amanda is what drives her is her complete lack of confidence. She will score 20 points, have 12 rebounds, seven assists and say ‘I missed five lay ups.’ That’s the type of kid she is and that’s what drives her. She likes getting to the rim and she’s a gamer.
She was All-County last year. She’s a tough kid who doesn’t mind putting her head down. I have confidence in all three of our point guards. My three point guards I’ll say go and Erin is a tough kid who’s not afraid to throw her body around.
On less substitutions than normal:
Honestly I don’t sub the kids. I set up the rotation and they have to watch the clock. They were watching the game too much. I can’t do both. So I say you’re in next and they were watching the game. It’s the first game.
On beating Lynbrook:
We’ve been working all season on beating Lynbrook. We’re always going to have that feeling that last year we should have won or we could have won. We’ve been practicing a lot of what to do in a game.
On how similar the game was to the playoffs:
It felt exactly like nine months ago but during our halftime speech coach reminded us of how it felt last year. We weren’t going to let them come back.
On passing up 3-pointers:
I took one 3 and it wasn’t too pretty. When I have an open 3 I can take it but I know my team has strong 3-point shooters. I’d rather them take the 3 and if I have the opportunity I can drive for the layup.
Brooke is an amazing player and by far the best player I’ve ever gone against in basketball. Knowing you’re going against a player like that the concentration is to try and shut her down. Holding her to 27 points is actually great because last time we played her she had in the 30s. We made sure we had someone watching her the whole game.
On defeating Lynbrook:
It feels pretty awesome. We worked so hard for this so we finally it worked out for us. We knew from the last game to keep our head in it. We couldn’t let them get in our heads.
On what she thought when she was at the line late in the game:
I was at the line a lot this game. I was very confident. I knew if I missed them someone would be there and it worked out perfectly. Amanda got the rebound and it couldn’t have worked out better.
Lynbrook coach Heather Manikas:
On preparing for the first game of the season against North Shore:
I think no matter how much you talk about it you don’t understand the pressure until you’re in the game. You can watch tape, you can talk about it all you want but until you feel that pressure you really don’t know what it’s going to look like or how you’re going to react to it. First game of the season it’s tough to come out to a team like North Shore. We knew it was going to be a close game the whole time but you have you come out strong and hope that your girls are prepared.
On how close the game was again:
Well you know it’s not over till the last whistle blows. That’s for sure. With North Shore it doesn’t matter what quarter it is you’ve got to take care of the ball and that’s what we have to work on is taking care of that ball.
On Brooke being limited in the second half:
They totally face-guarded her. Instead of the team defense he had someone face-guarding Brooke the whole time. We tried to sometimes take her out of the situation because someone is open because they’re double-teaming. Obviously the kid can play, I can’t say enough good things about Brooke she’s just phenomenal.