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Baldwin Locks Down Lynbrook
Jay Mumford



Welcome to Baldwin basketball, Mariah Butler.  Your first assignment: Guard Brooke Gerstman for 30 minutes.

Baldwin Head Coach Tom Catapano did not go light on his sophomore guard in her first ever varsity game, but she asked for it literally.

"I asked Mariah what her goal was this year and she said, "To be the best defender on the team, " he said after Butler stayed with the talented Lynbrook HS senior like a tracking device and helped lead the Lady Bruins to their first win of the season, 58-39, over the Owls.  "That's such a rare thing to hear as a coach, and Mariah filled her role as a lockdown defender today."

Baldwin's code of stringent defense applied to the rest of the team as well, as Lynbrook struggled to score early.  Turnovers equaled transition buckets for the Lady Bruins, namely Alex Hampton (who scored a game high 20 points) and Ayanna Hudson (18 points, 9 rebounds).  They were also able to sneak into the seams of Lynbrook's zone defense and secure a 12-3 lead.  A Gerstman drive and a three from Shannon Baker made it a 14-10 game after one quarter, but Lynbrook's offense went flat and Baldwin's lockdown tactics blew their lead into double digits by halftime.  A five point first half for Gerstman could be attributed to Butler's hunger, but it didn't come cheap.

"I got a cramp in my leg," Butler said after taking a seat to get attention from the team trainer late in the game.  "Guarding [Gerstman] was a lot of work."

Like all good players, Gerstman didn't simply disappear.  She fought through picks to get open looks, eventually netting 12 of her team 17 points in the second half (and all of the Owl's third quarter points).  Danielle Amaya (8 points) chipped in as well, and Lynbrook were able to capitalize on the Lady Bruins' failure to get back on defense a few times for some transition buckets.  But none of the above were enough.  Baldwin's team defense and depth began to push Lynbrook further into a hole, with the gap fluctuating between 12 and 19 points.  The quick hands of Hampton tallied a whopping nine steals in the game and once she sunk a piercing pair of threes, the game was all but over.  But for Butler, it's only the beginning.

"The good news is we have her for three years," Coach Catapano said with a smirk.

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