Devin Gibbs was not in the best frame of mind when she and her Boonton teammates gathered in the team room at halftime during their game against David Brearley.
Striving to reach a lofty achievement in her high school basketball career, Gibbs, a senior small forward, was feeling low.
“I was freaking out at halftime,” said Gibbs, who was nine points shy of 1,000 at the break after going 2 for 6 from the field and scoring only six in the opening half. “I was contemplating not wanting to go back in. I was in a dark state of mind.”
Gibbs, nervous and struggling to make her shots, quickly emerged from that uncharacteristic dark state and netted three more 3-pointers to reach the coveted milestone when the Bombers fell, 53-33, to David Brearley in non-conference action on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
The momentous event occurred with 16.3 seconds remaining. Gibbs converted from the left corner, becoming the eighth girl in school history to attain 1,000 points. The basket from outside the arc, Gibbs’ fifth of the game, enabled her to shed the pressure she was feeling.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get it,” Gibbs said. “I felt like I just had to do it. I was looking for a 3 because I knew that’s what I needed. Whenever I can get behind the line and I’m open, I try to put a shot up. I was nervous today. People were asking me about it. I wanted it to be low key but I was definitely feeling it.”
Once Gibbs nailed the 3-pointer, her fifth of the game and her 207th overall, the stress faded away and she was all smiles. Her Boonton teammates and coaches swarmed her and offered their congratulations. She received flowers, balloons and a painted game ball to commemorate the achievement. Gibbs went over to the stands and was hugged by her parents, Bill and Theresa, sisters Kaitlyn and Megan, and her aunt, EIEI. Also on hand to celebrate was her best friend since kindergarten, Vanessa Lomakin, who plays for DePaul.
“My family comes to all of my games,” said Gibbs, a Lincoln Park resident. “They’re supportive but they can be embarrassing. I actually like having them here.”
Boonton coach Mike Carlin was pleased, of course, that Gibbs shook off her early shooting woes. Carlin was also happy that Gibbs, a four-year starter, recorded her 1,000th point on her home court. The game originally was slated to be played at Brearley in Kenilworth but the Union County school agreed to make the trip north to Boonton.
“We knew what Devin’s totals were and wanted it to be here,” Carlin said of Gibbs, one of the Bombers’ five captains. “Devin just kept chipping away at it. She’s a smart player and has been a leader. The other girls look up to her and listen to her.”
Carlin anticipated Brearley would employ a box and one in an effort to contain Gibbs but that did not happen. Two players shared the responsibility of guarding her. Carlin said he knew the 3-pointer in the closing seconds “was going to go in when she put it up.”
Gibbs got off to a rocky start, missing the three shots she took in the first quarter. With 2:49 left before halftime, Gibbs sank a 3-pointer. A minute and a half later, she swished another. Midway through the third period, Gibbs (15 points, 6 rebounds) boosted her point total to nine. She failed to convert her next five field goal attempts, Basket No. 4 was scored with 2:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was fitting that the 5-foot-11 Gibbs would reach 1,000 on 3-pointers. She accumulated 59 3s as a freshman and has continued to be proficient from long range.
“In sixth grade, I was 5 foot 8 so I was the big, a center,” Gibbs recalled. “I shot free throws pretty well so I figured I might still make shots if I moved back three to five feet.”
Joining the 1,000-point club has been on Gibbs’ mind since eighth grade. The goal became more realistic after sophomore year. The last two Boonton girls to score 1,000 points were CeCe Green and Sihana Asani, both members of the Class of 2015.
“It’s so cool to be a part of it,” Gibbs said. “I’ve always looked at the banner with the names on it. I felt encouraged and wanted to be as good as those players. It’s a big thing for the school.”
Gibbs will enjoy the rest of her high school games before going on to Ithaca or Bucknell. She’ll forego basketball and focus on her academics. Gibbs is likely to major in pre-law in hopes of becoming a medical malpractice attorney.