Catonsville High's 2017 graduate Jen Gast couldn't have chosen a more perfect ending to her high school athletic career.
It came on the basketball court on March 11 at Towson University where the 6-foot-2 senior forward celebrated the Comets first-ever girls state basketball championship.
The Arbutus resident, who was also a standout defensive player on the soccer field, was named the 2017 Catonsville Times Female Co-Athlete of the Year.
She shares the honor with classmate Amber Lally.
After the Comets defeated Walt Whitman, 49-46, to win the Class 4A state title, she smiled and summed up her feelings.
"Thank goodness my last game was a state championship," Gast said. "I'm happy with this team. We had a really good ride and I'm excited."
In the championship game, she hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds and scored six points.
"It just seemed to me that she got every rebound, but that's what All-Metro players do," Catonsville basketball coach Mike Mohler said.
Gast, who averaged 11.8 points and 10.2 rebounds, was a second team All-Metro selection and she was named first team All-County.
She was the second highest vote-getter in the county, behind teammate Jasmine Dickey (23.8 points per game), for the second year in a row.
"She was just terrific all year, inside and outside," Mohler said.
In the 51-45 victory at Howard in the Class 4A North Region championship game, she scored 12 points.
She connected on a deep three-pointer to start the game and made a key trey late in the third quarter to help the Comets extend their lead to five points.
"She could shoot it or put it on the floor," Mohler said. "She was just outstanding."
Gast actually had one of her best statistical games as a junior in a 69-49 loss to Western in the regional title game
Gast had 17 rebounds , 16 points and blocked seven shots.
In the final regular-season game on the Catonsville's home floor during her senior year, Gast poured in 23 points in a 97-31 victory over Perry Hall.
Gast will continue her basketball career playing for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
"I just told her the other day, your best basketball days are ahead of you and I really believe that her best basketball days aren't behind her," Mohler said.
Playing for a Division I college basketball team will help her develop physically.
"I think once she gets going and gets serious about working the weights and really gets a ton of individual attention, I think she's headed for great things," Mohler said.
In addition to being the team's top long-range shooter, rebounder and shot blocker, Gast could also handle the ball and wasn't afraid to dive on the floor for a loose ball for the 26-2 Comets.
Catonsville first-year girls soccer coach Ricky Sanchez appreciated her physical play as a sweeper on defense for the 7-6 Comets.
"You have to be able to go out there and be aggressive and play within the game, but be physical and without a doubt, that was a huge advantage to know she wasn't going to back away," Sanchez said.
Gast had five assists, including one from 45 yards out, she served into the box to Kolby Weedon, who deposited the ball into the goal in a 3-0 shutout win over Loch Raven.
"Being able to serve a ball deep into the opposing team's defensive zone caused all kinds of trouble, and her size and height gave us a great advantage in clearing balls defensively on crosses and corners," Sanchez said.
Gast's experience gave the rookie coach and her teammates confidence.
"I was grateful to have her for my senior class," Sanchez said. "It helped me more than anything to get through my first season."
Long kicks weren't the only thing she contributed from the defensive side of the soccer field.
"She was composed back there and she showed some foot skills," Sanchez said. "When players would over-pursue her, she was able to get to the ball and get it out of trouble."
Sanchez praised her commitment to soccer even more when Gast played basketball.
"I got to watch some of her basketball games and it made me appreciate her more in terms of what she gave in practice on the soccer field," said Sanchez, noting she would be there at 7 a.m. practices, working hard and setting an example for her teammates. "It may not have been her number one sport, but hopefully that prepared her for what was to come in basketball."
Gast, who was also recruited for basketball by Loyola University Maryland, Mount St. Mary's, Manhattan, Fairleigh Dickinson and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, made the decision to attend UMBC before her senior year began.
"There were definitely a lot of things that went into it, but the fact that it is in front of my family and they can come to the games and the new facility that is being built is going to be so nice, so I'm excited to play in that," Gast said.