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Brown Deer junior Now All-Suburban guard Jay Gentry plays the 'What-if?' game now and again these days.

What if the short jumper from Brown Deer's brilliant senior point guard Damon Jackson, who had just hit a similar shot a few weeks earlier to beat Pewaukee and clinch a share of a fifth consecutive Woodland Conference East title, had fallen in instead of rimming out in the WIAA regional final loss against eventual state Division 2 runner-up Cedarburg?

If it had, maybe it could have been the Falcons, who were on a very hot streak at the time, who made the run to the state finals instead.

It's a great question, but Gentry said it doesn't take the edge off an amazing finish to the season by Brown Deer. The close miss will also motivate the strong and dynamic Gentry, who made himself an offensive force both inside and outside this season.

"That was the best part of the season for us," he said. "Perseverance. We never gave up throughout the process. You can't get to the promised land without a few trials and tribulations."

But throughout the season, it was Gentry who was providing the trials and tribulations to his opponents. A self-described "chubby kid" growing up, the 6-foot-1 Gentry has spent the last few years sculpting and redefining his body to the point where he would not be out of place as a linebacker or a running back in football.

He said he has given the sport a try, but it wasn't a good fit for him.

"A lot of people ask me about it," he said with a laugh, "because I always played bigger than I was when I was kid. I always played the bigger position (like forward), but then I stopped growing (laughs).

"The aggressiveness has always been a part of me, though. Sometimes I'm too aggressive and I have to tone it back a little."

The aggression is that of a good football player and he channels that into powerful drives to the basket where few dare get in front of him. His drives became more effective this year because he also honed his outside shot (55 3-pointers) with up to 400 practice shots a day in the offseason and because he was working as a part of one of the most talented backcourt trios in the state with seniors like Jackson and Jalen Greenlee.

Gentry said it was the chemistry that the three had that propelled the Falcons (18-6 overall) to an eight-game winning streak at the end of the season and was only stopped by the 71-70 heartbreaker to Cedarburg.

"Jalen and Damon and I were together all the time in the offseason," he said. "We got out there and got to work. When I was shooting all those practice shots, I was shooting them with Jalen and Damon. When I was lifting weights, I was lifting with Damon and Jalen. We did this together, and it created a much stronger bond between us."

Guided by Gentry, an unstoppable force.

The first-team All-Woodland Conference East Division and honorable mention WBCA Division 2 all-state choice averaged 18.7 points per game, knocking down 47 percent of both his 2- and 3-point attempts. He hit 75 percent of his free throws (72-of-96). He was second on the team in rebounds with 108 (4.5 per game) and also had 63 assists and 35 steals.

RELATED:Meet the 2016-17 Now Newspapers All-Suburban Boys Basketball Team

"Just a tough matchup for any opponent," said coach Kelly Appleby. "Great mid-range game complemented by 3-point efficiency. Great basketball IQ and feel for the game. Very tough, both physically and mentally."

That became apparent down the stretch, where in that closing winning streak, Gentry had 30 points in the loss to Cedarburg, and 22 in the big victory over Pewaukee. He had 30 in a tight victory over Greendale and 23 in a pivotal triumph over Tosa West to start the run.

As he noted, he was happy he didn't have to carry the full load as 3-point ace Greenlee had 34 points in a major late-season victory over East Division co-champ Whitnall when Jackson was out with an illness.

"That game was huge redemption (for a tough December loss to Whitnall)," said Gentry. "We were very motivated and encouraged for that one. I had complete confidence in the team because the conference title was on the line."

Making the season even more enjoyable for Gentry was playing with his sophomore brother, Jaylon, who was a key reserve guard for the Falcons. He said Jaylon doesn't back down from anybody either and that the pair really take it up a notch in frequent one-on-one competitions

"Very, very competitive," said Jay of the pair's occasional physicality. "This season was so much fun. Practices were very competitive. We love playing this way (press and run). It doesn't look like an organized system where you have to do things a certain way. It's like an open gym, only structured."

Gentry's already looking ahead.

Having fellow returnees around him like Jaylon, sophomore guard Brooklyn Jagers, junior forwards Tejhaun Palmer and Liam McGuire and junior center Johnny Saengphonphakdy will help take the edge off the tough graduation losses of Jackson and Greenlee.

And as noted, Gentry is a motivated individual.

He saw a little bit of time off the bench as a member of the Falcons' second WIAA State D3 championship squad in 2015 and he noted how players like then-forward and now current Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Zack Baun and the tough-minded and efficient guard line of Donovan Lucas and Lewrenzo Byers carried the Falcons to a title.

To get back to that point, he'll continue his offseason work with the Kevon Looney Milwaukee Running Rebels select team, and he'll keep hoisting up shots.

"I got a taste of that (the state title)," he said, "and we all now want to maintain that winning standard. Hopefully we'll be able to get to that point again."

And he wants to channel that inner aggression towards one major offseason goal.

"I want to improve my explosiveness," he said. "I want to be able to dunk next season. I'm closer to it than some people think."

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