EVESHAM (N.J.) - Cherokee High School senior Gabby Recinto knew long before high school that her dream was to become a nurse.
"Before high school. I've always known," she said.
Recinto announced her commitment to Jefferson University in Philadelphia last July. She plans to major in Health and Exercise Science and study for a fifth year to earn her Master of Business Administration degree.
Once her basketball career is completed, Recinto plans on shifting her focus to nursing.
"You can't really do nursing and basketball at the same time," she said. "The coaches are great in helping me set up great programs and great schooling opportunities and helping me get my MBA which will help me get a job right out of college."
The Cherokee senior knew Jefferson was a perfect fit the moment she stepped foot on campus.
"The second I stepped on the campus it was something I never experienced at any other school before," Recinto said. "The coaches are amazing. They remind me a lot of my high school coaches and they're so supportive of everything that I do.
"I want to do nursing. Perfect fit overall. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
The senior's desire to help others also shows in her abilities as an athlete and teammate on the basketball court.
The four-year member of the Lady Chiefs' basketball program scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half as Cherokee, ranked second in the latest South Jersey Sports Zone Top 15 high school girls' basketball rankings, topped No. 8 Camden Catholic, 44-30, in an Olympic Conference showdown on Tuesday night.
After a sloppy first half plagued by minimal execution and missed shots, Cherokee coach Ron Powell reminded his players to stay true to themselves.
The advice was absorbed as the Lady Chiefs turned a 15-15 tie into a 10-point advantage with a 12-2 run to inaugurate the second half.
"He just told us we need to play like ourselves," Recinto said. "It comes to a point where there's no offenses you can run. You just need to be yourself and we need to play like ourselves. Passing and screening, passing and cutting, just playing together. We have such great chemistry. We have a lot of backdoors, that's one of our big things. We just needed to stay true to ourselves."
Cherokee also benefited from an offensive perspective by starting Courtney Furman in the second half.
"We started Courtney Furman which gave us another offensive threat," Powell said. "We got the ball to Gabby inside where she could do something with it. Our guards -- (Brielle) Alaba is a freshman, Olivia Selverian's a sophomore -- I thought they played much better and much more patiently in the second half. Delaney Jackson just drove the lane and attacked the basket. I thought we played with more poise in the third quarter than we did to open the game."
A pair of baskets by Recinto and an old-fashioned three-point play by Jackson gave Cherokee its largest lead, a 40-25 advantage, with 3:42 remaining in the contest. Jackson, a Loyola lacrosse commit, finished with 11 points.
Recinto strived in the second half by serving as a purposeful cutter in the half court and playing through contact in the low post. The Jefferson commit's ability to play within the offense while also being an encouraging, vocal teammate has helped Cherokee play to its standard over the last four years.
"My thing is being down low, and I just have great teammates that recognize that's my strength," Recinto said. "We do that with each other. We know each other's strengths and when we see that they're in a possible scoring opportunity we like to get each other the ball. My teammates are great with that."
Alaba flashed her confidence with a pair of gutsy triples in the Lady Chiefs' statement win. The freshman splashed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:22 left in the third quarter to give Cherokee a 25-17 lead and force a timeout by Camden Catholic. The freshman finished with eight points.
Alaba is the first point guard to start as a freshman for the Lady Chiefs since 2022 graduate and current Albright guard C.J. Apistar. She's also the first freshman point guard to start every game of her career since Day One during Powell's tenure on Tomlinson Mill Road.
"Bri started right away as a freshman," Powell said. "We just told her last week when I walked into practice, I said, 'Bri, you're not a freshman anymore. You got 14 games under your belt.'"
The freshman assured her coach that she is more relaxed halfway through season.
"There's a lot of pressure when you're running the show, you're handling the ball," Powell said. "She's done a phenomenal job. She's a great defender. She's long, she leads the team in steals. She's shooting a high percentage.
"I don't know what else she can do for us, but I just know that I'm glad she's going to be around for three more years. She's going to be a special player and so is Liv Selverian. This backcourt could be one of the better backcourts in South Jersey.
UMass commit Aaryn Battle powered the Irish with a team-high 16 points. Quinnipiac signee Kassidy Thompson and freshman Gabrielle Vaughn added five each.
"Camden Catholic's a really talented team," Powell said. "They got two Division I players in Thompson and Battle. Gabby Vaughn's going to be a heck of a player. They're a load. I'm really proud of our kids to be able to win a game against a really quality team."