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Gerstman powers Owls past South Side
Jay Mumford

Sometimes a leader’s worth can be found in his or her ability to trust others. Other times, leaders have to grab the wheel and complete the mission when a steady hand is needed. Senior point guard Brooke Gerstman had to do a little of both on Thursday night for the Lynbrook Owls to live to see the Nassau ‘A’ quarterfinals. Behind Gerstman’s game high 18 points, leadership, and miscellaneous intangibles, Lynbrook eventually staved off the Cyclones, 43-39, at home.

“[South Side] put so much pressure on Brooke, everyone else had to step up,” said Lynbrook Head Coach, Heather Manikas. “[Senior guard] Shannon Baker hit some shots from the outside and Danielle Amaya was able to get us some inside play. We rely on each other as a team.”

Although Gerstman got on the board early with a trey and a deuce, Amaya and Baker shouldered much of the scoring load in the first half. Deferring to teammates proved satisfactory; Lynbrook went up 11-2 on the Cyclones and kept them at bay, even when they found bursts of momentum.

“When we prepared for this game, I knew a lot of [defensive] attention would be on me,” said Gerstman, a 1000+ point career scorer who also dished out 4 assists in the game. “I’ve been playing with these girls for 4 or 5 years, so I trust them [to make shots].”

South Side made their runs. A trey from Allison Bannon (6 points) made it a five point game in the second quarter and solid defense gave the Cyclones some hope. Turnovers and fruitless offensive possessions stunted their progress, but the third quarter would see more mini-runs powered by Bannon and Bridget Kiernan (8 points) that kept South Side in it. Even when Amaya (who scored 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds) turned a sterling defensive play into a fast break bucket to give the Owls a 34-20 lead (their largest of the game), the Cyclones were never out of striking range. Maggie McGowan (who scored 10 of her team high 12 points in the fourth quarter) began to heat up and put a damper on Lynbrook’s momentum. The double bonus put her on the stripe, where she shot a perfect 4-4 in the final period, cutting the Owl’s lead to three, 42-39. But big time players have to be on duty at all times, regardless of what’s going on.

“It has to do with experience; I’m used to big games,” said Gerstman. “Their defense wound up overplaying me and I was able to drive by.”

Gerstman scored all nine of Lynbrook’s fourth quarter points, but it wasn’t just the awakening of her offense. A blocked shot here. A picked off inbounds pass there (she tallied seven steals for the game). A few key free throws. Every big play from McGowan was met with a counter attack from Gerstman. Even when she committed a turnover with Lynbrook up three and South Side in position to tie the game, she didn’t panic. It’s just a matter of compensating elsewhere. When the smoke cleared, Gerstman had near single-handedly extended her high school career (and the Owls’ playoff life) one more game.

“She's the type of kid who keeps her head in the game, even if she makes a mistake,” Coach Manikas said of the talented Gerstman, who has opted to not play college basketball. “She’s one of the best players Lynbrook has ever had, if not the best. We all rely on her.”

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