Bishop McGann-Mercy has two Santacroces on its girls basketball team that opposing teams have to worry about: Melina and her younger sister, Gianna.
On Wednesday night it was Melina who caused the bulk of the damage against Southold/Greenport. The senior forward struck for a career-high 31 points as the Monarchs sunk Southold, 49-26, in a Suffolk County League VII game at Greenport High School.
Mercy (10-4, 8-1), which had already booked its fifth straight playoff berth, according to coach Meaghan Smith, handed Southold a tough loss. The Clippers (3-7, 2-6) must win five of their remaining six league games in order to reach the playoffs.
Melina Santacroce was her assertive, athletic self, attacking the basket and scoring 21 of her points in the second half. She also finished with 12 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks.
Early in the season, on Dec. 19, Mercy had defeated Southold, 50-42. Southold has improved since then, but Mercy obviously did, too.
A game-opening layup by Adrine Demirciyan gave Southold its only lead of the night before Mercy got rolling, scoring the next nine points, six by Melina Santacroce.
A three-pointer banked in by Southold’s Ale Cardi in the closing seconds of the first half sent Mercy into the locker room at halftime holding a 20-15 lead.
Then the Monarchs went to work in the second half, which they opened with a paralyzing 23-6 run, 17 of those points coming from — you guessed it — Melina Santacroce.
Mercy shot 13-for-19 from the field in the second half while Southold went 4-for-29. The First Settlers shot 19.2 percent (10-for-52) for the game. Not only that, but coach Skip Gehring was irked by 26 turnovers.
After Melina Santacroce, the next highest scorer for Mercy was Caryn Nabrizny. The senior guard had seven points to go with 10 rebounds and five assists.
Demirciyan, an eighth-grade guard, had a team-leading seven points and four assists.
Southold senior forward Grace Syron, who plays with the same sort of competitive fire that Melina Santacroce does, received a polite round of applause from the home fans when she exited the game with one minute and 30 seconds left. She had five points, 11 rebounds, nine steals, one assist and one block.
Photo caption: Katrina Ellis (3) leads Bishop McGann-Mercy’s players as they exchanged high-fives with Southold/Greenport following Wednesday night’s game at Greenport High School. (Credit: Krysten Massa)