Deerfield freshman Nikki Kerstein scores in bunches like older sister Lexi, but now in the same game: ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment since elementary school.’
Deerfield’s Nikki Kerstein has been playing in the shadow of her older sister during her young career. Two years ago, Lexi Kerstein immediately became a big-time varsity contributor in her freshman season and led the Warriors to their first regional championship since 2007.
But now Nikki Kerstein can put her stamp on the family’s growing basketball legacy too. On Tuesday, the freshman guard scored 10 of her 14 points in the third quarter to life Deerfield to a 59-43 win over Yorkville in Schaumburg’s Thanksgiving tournament.
Nikki Kerstein also had four steals, while Lexi Kerstein put on a two-way show of her own with 20 points and eight steals in limited playing time. Junior forwards Olivia Kerndt and Morgan Kerndt chipped in 10 points and eight points, respectively, for the Warriors (3-1), who built a 20-6 lead late in the first quarter to cruise to the win against the Foxes (0-4).
Nikki Kerstein said she’s happy she’s finally playing with her older sister. ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment since elementary school,” she said. “I remember watching Lexi when she came to high school. I knew this team would be super good. I’m so excited to get on the court with them.
‘I’ve always been the younger one, so I’m used to playing in (Lexi’s) shadow, and I’m always getting better from it, and it taught me to compete with her and work harder.”
In the third quarter, she took a page from her sister and dominated the statistical column. She closed out her eight-minute flurry with an 8-foot floater at the buzzer. After that scoring display, the public address announcer accidentally noted that “Nikki Kerstein” scored following a layup from Lexi Kerstein in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
“I feel I’ve done pretty well so far, but there’s always room for improvement,” Nikki Kerstein said, “It’s been awesome so far.”
Lexi Kerstein, who has an offer from Vermont, frustrated the Foxes with her on-the-ball defense and scored back-to-back layups to pad the lead to 59-37 early in the fourth quarter. She said her younger sister is a player to watch in Lake County.
“I’ve told (Nikki) to take her time and everything will work out if it’s supposed to and to keep working hard,” Lexi Kerstein said.
The Warriors have no shortage of talented guards on their roster, with freshman Aubrey Galvan adding five points and four assists.
Former Waukegan coach Nicole Keith, in her first season at Deerfield, said her guards played a solid game on both ends of the court.
“Nikki has bee playing well for us defensively,” Keith said. “My big push for these girls is to crack down defensively. When those two freshman together start learning the smarts of the game, it’s going to be fun. We have to get some little things fixed. … We have some work to do.”
Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.