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February 1, 2023

Gavilan’s garlic-lined frontcourt

Webster, Bowe bring Gilroy-style ball to local junior college
women’s basketball team.
GILROY – This Friday night it won’t be too hard to locate Lady Rams’ Keisha Webster and Antionette Bowe. They’ll both be attending the Gilroy High girls basketball team’s opening game of the Lady Mustang Classic at 8 p.m.

The two GHS alums – now starters on the Gavilan College women’s basketball team – want to recruit even more of their fellow garlic hoopsters to join the resurgent Lady Rams.

“It’s fun. It’s old times,” said Webster, a 2002 GHS grad and a freshman forward at Gavilan College. “We’re going to watch the girls this Friday.”

And next Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. locals can watch the Rams’ newest frontcourt force of Webster and Bowe do it Gilroy-style against San Jose Christian Academy.

“They’re getting there. By the time conference comes around, they’ll be pretty good,” said second-year head coach Michelle Mannisto of the Gilroy duo. “They’re small but they know the game. Together they look pretty good.”

Bowe – the only returning sophomore for the Lady Rams this year – was the first to choose Gavilan College. It was not until the summer after her senior year that Bowe decided to play ball at the local junior college. She was working together with Webster and, according to Bowe, they made a pact that if one went, the other would follow the next year.

“I told her if you go I’ll go so we’ll be able to play together again,” Bowe said. “So when I started playing here, I told her you have no choice you have to play here.”

So while Webster played out her senior year at Gilroy High, Bowe was learning the ins and outs of JC-ball as a freshman at Gavilan College. Webster said she was leaning towards Foothill College – but, after a meeting with Coach Mannisto and the persistence of Bowe, she decided on Gavilan.

“We really know each other on the floor. It’s easier to play with a post player like her,” said Webster of Bowe. “She gave me really good notes on how to play at the collegiate level. She knows the teams and their returning players.”

And Bowe could not be happier to have her former Lady Mustang teammate aboard this season.

“We’re really good friends off and on the court. We push each other to go as hard as we can,” said Bowe of Webster. “I know where Keisha is most of the time. I know what she’s going to do and I know what she’s looking for like she knows what I’m looking for.”

The Lady Rams’ garlic-lined frontcourt has become a rebounding and scoring force in the early season – especially Webster who averages double-digits in rebounds and is one of team’s leading scorers.

“It’s been going well. I’ve improved a lot. My average points per game is up from last year and my rebounds are up a lot,” Webster said. “(Mannisto) is really a good coach. She’s a friend and a coach. She knows what she’s talking about and she can still hoop it up.”

Mannisto – a former collegiate basketball player herself – saw the potential in Webster while she was at Gilroy High and now welcomes the opportunity to mold her into a top collegiate player.

“I saw potential in her. She can get a lot better, too. She doesn’t even know her potential,” said Mannisto of Webster. “She continues to improve every game. It’s really up to her how much better she wants to get.”

Bowe is also impressed with how fast Webster has adapted to playing at the next level.

“She’s doing great. She gets the rebounds and the points we need. She’s doing excellent this year,” Bowe said. “It’s nice in games. I tell her let’s show them how Gilroy does it. We have two post players down low and it’s me and Keisha.”

The Lady Rams are 2-6 in the preseason after returning from a long road trip. Gavilan won one game in each the Butte Tournament and the Desert Tournament. In a 68-55 win over College of the Redwoods, Webster – who was named to the All-Tourney team – netted a team-high 18 points while Bowe tallied 10 points. Then in a 56-48 victory over 29 Palms, Bowe finished with 11 points with Webster adding nine.

“It was long, but we got through it,” Bowe said. “As the games go along, I’m getting better. I’m figuring out where I need to be on this team.”

Webster has even surprised herself with how much her game has improved under the guidance of Mannisto.

“I expected myself to be a good rebounder. The offense came with being with Michelle,” Webster said. “I don’t know how she does it. I can hit my jump shot now. She just pushes us to the fullest.”

Although the Lady Rams are once again shorthanded personnel-wise this season, Gilroy as well as Hollister and Morgan Hill are represented on the energetic, up-and-coming squad.

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