12/31/11 5:00pm
12/31/2011 5:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck had a lot to cheer about, qualifying for the state semifinal pool for the second year in a row.

For a high school girls volleyball team in New York, any season that ends in Glens Falls can’t be a bad one.

And that is where Mattituck finished up for the second straight year, in the Glens Falls Civic Center for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.

As they did in 2010, when they qualified for the state semifinals for the first time, the Tuckers went winless in their six games in the state semifinal pool, but they did make an impact on the tournament, nonetheless. They came awfully close to their first state semifinal win in their last game against Voorheesville.

The Blackbirds needed to win in order to tie Rhinebeck for second place and have a chance to reach the finals. But the Tuckers had motivation of their own: making the final game in the careers of their five seniors a memorable one.

“We had our spirits up,” one of those seniors, libero Jackie Hinrichs, said. “We wanted to win so badly.”

The Tuckers, who never held a lead in their previous five games, shot out to a 3-0 start, perhaps catching defending state champion Voorheesville by surprise. They led by as many as six points when a Claire Finnican kill made it 8-2. While the prospect of an historic win teased the Tuckers, Voorheesville surged ahead, finishing the game on a 10-2 run. The final score was 26-24.

“Even though I’m crying my eyes out, it’s O.K. because we proved ourselves to be a good team,” said Finnican, a senior middle hitter.

Coach Frank Massa’s Tuckers, who went 12-0 on their run to Glens Falls, made a statement just by advancing to the state semifinals. After all, 10 players from the 2010 team had graduated.

Hinrichs said the team heard from naysayers, “so that put a lot in our heads, but making it up here meant so much to everyone. This is an experience that I’ll never forget.”

[email protected]

12/31/11 12:01pm

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2011 Business of the Year?

The Suffolk Times will announced its Business of the Year in its Jan. 5, 2012 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award in the past decade:

• 2010 — Peconic Landing

• 2009 — Rocky DiVello

• 2008 — John Romanelli

• 2007 — North Fork Press/Academy Printing

• 2006 — Soundview Restaurant and Inn

• 2005 — Joe Frohnhoefer

• 2004 — Dan Damianos

• 2003 — The Arcade

• 2002 — Kate McDowell

• 2001 — Mattituck Chamber of Commerce

• 2000 — The Harbes Family

12/31/11 8:56am

This 3,500-square-foot open floor plan contemporary sits on .66 acre with 100 feet of Soundfront and amazing coastal views. It offers 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, master suite, living room with fireplace, gourmet eat-in kitchen and sunroom — plus an 18-by-36-foot in-ground pool with terraced decking, hot tub and outdoor shower.

Location: East Marion
Price: $1,799,000
Broker: Corcoran Group, Southold, 631-765-1300

12/31/11 7:00am

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | A Greenport shop had this T-shirt in stock after a hurricane and an earthquake hit the area in the same week in August.

Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley was at his desk on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday in August when he felt a tremor.

So too was Supervisor Scott Russell. “My desk was swaying and my computer screen was swaying,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if it was real or in my head. I had to ask my secretary.”

It was real, all right. The chief and the supervisor were among an estimated 12 million people up and down the length of the East Coast to feel the magnitude 5.8 quake, the strongest to hit the coast in 67 years. It struck six-tenths of a mile deep in Virginia 84 miles from Washington, D.C. shortly before 2 p.m. on August 23. Authorities evacuated parts of the White House, Capitol and Pentagon and the shaking, which lasted from 10 to 15 seconds, apparently left a crack in the Washington Monument.

There were no reports of damage locally, but it left a lot of people shaken.

Nanette Doroski of Greenport was at home at the time. “The dishing in my china cabinet were shaking and my chair was shaking,” she said. Her husband, John, was up in the attic painting, but he didn’t feel it.

“I ran up and asked him, ‘are you doing anything to shake the house?’” she said.

It wasn’t her first earthquake. She’d felt tremblors when living in the Philippines, “But I never felt anything here, ever.”

Alex Wipf of Cutchogue, who once lived in California, said what felt was “really mild” compared those on West Coast.

His wife was typing when they felt the quake. “She asked me if I was fooling around with her chair,” he said.

In the early 1980s the North Fork shook from an earthquake centered under the Sound 10 miles north of Greenport.

[email protected]

12/30/11 10:00pm
12/30/2011 10:00 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Frutti di Mare, an entree served at Touch of Venice in Cutchogue. The dish includes scallops, shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels over linguine pasta in a white clam sauce.

There’s nothing quite like a romantic dinner at a cozy Italian restaurant around Christmas time.

Picture it: dimmed lights, elegant wine glasses, soft Christmas tunes, a loveseat semi-circle booth forcing an intimately tight squeeze for you and your dining partner.

Unfortunately, my relationship status was single when I went to Touch of Venice in Cutchogue for dinner last week, and my dining partner was my good friend and colleague, who is happily married but also willing to be my dinner date when I need one.

Nevertheless, we had a dining experience at Touch of Venice that would make top 5 list of best dinner dates.

Family-owned and operated, Touch of Venice moved into its new home on Main Road in Cutchogue this past spring after sitting on Wickham Lane overlooking the water in Mattituck for more than two decades.

Guests to the restaurant’s new location walk through an inviting bar area to the main dining room, which is filled with cushiony booths and small tables blanketed in white tablecloths.

My friend and I arrived at the eatery early, so we decided to order from the three-course prix fixe menu, which is available until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday evenings. While perusing the menu, we both sipped glasses of Nautique Rosé, a rosé from Peconic Bay Winery’s sister brand that launched in the summer of 2009. Bright pink salmon in color, the rosé, my friend and I agreed, went well with each course, from nibbles before appetizers to the gelato atop our desserts.

While selecting our dishes, servers immediately brought crusty slices of Tuscan bread and tiny bowls of tasty pickings: sun-dried tomato spread, pesto and shavings of parmesan cheese.

My appetizer was a mixed green salad with balled buffalo mozzarella, locally-grown cherry tomatoes, Mediterranean olives and hearty croutons dressed in a lemon-basil vinaigrette.

Our waitress was speedy, cheerful throughout our meal (it was “her pleasure” to serve us, she assured us many times) and very knowledgeable. She even knew the chef uses two types of basil in the lemon-basil vinaigrette: an Italian basil and an African basil some people call “purple basil,” for its color.

I ordered the Frutti di Mare for my entrée, which was a generous bowl of scallops, shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels swimming in a luscious helping of linguine and tossed in a white clam sauce. I’ve ordered the dish, a staple on Italian restaurant menus, many times, and Touch of Venice’s version was truly scrumptious, with the tender scallops and succulent shrimp standing out. There was also no skimping on any of the seafood, which is always appreciated.

My dinner date and I finished the evening with matching desserts: warm, moist, please-never-end flourless chocolate cake with a dollop of ice-cold vanilla gelato.

I couldn’t have asked for anything more, except for maybe a gentleman friend to dine with who would insist on paying the bill.

The beautiful dinner on a Christmasy December night with my good friend was the best it could have been.

[email protected]

Places you should try is a review column written by staff members who have felt a particular need to rave about a local dining establishment. Check out our previous places column on The Riverhead Project.

12/30/11 5:00pm

COURTESY PHOTO | Ed Danowski, who played seven seasons for the New York Giants, was selected by Times/Review Newsgroup as the greatest athlete in the area's history.

During the summer of 2011, the Times/Review Newsgroup sports staff began an ambitious project to compile a list of the 20 greatest athletes in this area’s history, starting from the North Fork and stretching into Brookhaven Town. The idea was to tell the forgotten or unknown stories of the many great athletes over the years and to chronicle their careers from beginning to end.

In addition to profiles on each athlete, which ran over 21 days, the sports staff wrote stories detailing the accomplishments of many other outstanding athletes who didn’t crack the list.

Compiling such a list had its difficulties. And in the end, not everyone agreed with all selections. But what was indisputable was the passion for their sport that came through for each athlete.

The list began with a pair of Greenport hoops legends as a tie for No. 20, Al Edwards and Ryan Creighton. During their respective eras at Greenport, each player set the all-time scoring record for Suffolk County.

Sports Editor Bob Liepa wrote: “Edwards and Creighton could play any position on the floor. They both were relied upon by their teammates to lead the way. They could both dominate a game. They both handled their fame on the basketball court with humility. They both put winning over individual achievement, as considerable as some of those individual achievements were.”

When the countdown finally reached No. 1, the top honor went to a Riverhead legend, Ed Danowski, who hailed from Aquebogue. Danowski played seven seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants. He quarterbacked the Giants to two titles in the 1930s.

[email protected]

12/30/11 12:01pm

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2011 Civic Person of the Year?

The Suffolk Times will announced its Civic Person of the Year in its Jan. 5, 2012 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award in the past decade:

• 2010 — Peggy Murphy

• 2009 — N.F. Community Theatre

• 2008 — Lori Luscher

• 2007 — Committee for Phil McKnight

• 2006 — Relay for Life organizers

• 2005 — Merle Levine

• 2004 — Christine Roache

• 2003 — Barbara Taylor

• 2002 — Kim Tetrault

• 2001 — Elinor May

• 2000 — Mark Miller

12/30/11 7:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Wind blows the snow around at Founders Landing last winter.

It’s easy to chose to block out the months that the North Fork was mired in snow several feet deep last winter, but like it or not, the harsh winter had a big effect on many lives.

The ferocious wind and snow storm that hit Long Island the day after Christmas in 2010 was just Mother Nature’s warning shot. One foot of snow from that storm was still on the ground when the storms began to pile up, one after another, in early January.

After two small snowfalls the first week in January, another major storm barrelled up the coast on Jan 11, again dropping more than a foot. A large tree toppled over on Main Road in Mattituck and about 260 residents were without power in the wake of the storm. Train and bus services were canceled and many people were snowed in and unable to travel for at least a day.

“We got about 18 inches here in Greenport and my house is outside the village and the road wasn’t cleared until late,” said Greenport Mayor David Nyce the next day. “And then it took until after 1:30 to get the driveway dug out. A pretty sight, but not a pretty sight, if you know what I mean.”

Another big snow struck on Jan. 27, followed by a major ice storm on Jan. 31 that severely strained tree limbs and the patience of a populace that had long become used to being buried under the white stuff. Smaller snowfalls became so commonplace they didn’t even register, and by the end of the month January had officially been declared the snowiest January on record.

The snow piled up in every outdoor area it could be stored. Municipal plow crews worried around the clock, and private contractors were raking in new plowing clients. In Riverhead, men with shovels walked from door to door offering their services downtown, which were often heartily accepted. Environmentalists launched a campaign against Connecticut’s decision to dump the excess snow in the Long Island Sound.

By mid-February, the worst of the storms were over, but the snow on the ground still remained. School boards calculated later in the month that, since so many storms happened on weekends and during holidays, many districts somehow managed to get through the winter without using all their snow days.

[email protected]

12/29/11 5:00pm
12/29/2011 5:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | An airborne Yianni Rauseo leapt onto the top of the pile after Mattituck beat Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class B final.

One thing was certain: an Ascher would be on the mound, pitching for the Mattituck baseball team in the Southeast Region Class B final. The question was, which one would it be, Steve Ascher or his twin brother, Tom?

The answer was both.

Tom Ascher started the game, but after the first inning said he felt stiffness in his arm and couldn’t continue. Steve Ascher, who had pitched 12 innings in the Tuckers’ previous two playoff wins, threw the final three innings for Mattituck, but he couldn’t save his team from a 9-8 loss to Briarcliff at Pace University’s Westchester campus.

With the score tied at 8-8 and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning, a Mattituck outfielder couldn’t haul in a fly ball that skipped off his mitt and allowed Briarcliff’s Brendan Weinstein to score from third base. The run gave the Bears the decisive run in a see-saw battle that featured three ties and five lead changes.

“It’s not exactly how we wanted it to end,” Mattituck coach Steve De Caro said, “but they’re a great team.”

Mattituck wasn’t bad itself. The Tuckers went 20-6. Most of those wins came on the arm of Steve Ascher, a senior southpaw with an 11-1 record.

With only two and a half days of rest between starts, Steve Ascher tossed a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in an 8-0 defeat of Oyster Bay in the Long Island final at Farmingdale State College.

Steve Ascher said there was never a question of him not starting that game, not even after having thrown five innings in a 25-6 blowout of Babylon in the Suffolk County final. After that game, while the rest of the team went out to dinner to celebrate, he stayed home and iced his arm.

That must have been some icing job because he tossed a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts and no walks against Oyster Bay. “It’s my best pitching this year,” Steve Ascher said. “I don’t know. I guess it’s just adrenaline.”

Steve Ascher retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced (one reached base on an error) before giving up Oyster Bay’s only hit. Using his fastball to spot the outside corners, Ascher looked sharp, striking out seven different batters, including two three times and one twice.

“On only two and a half days of rest, it’s really amazing,” Mattituck center fielder Yianni Rauseo said. “You can’t ask for Steve to do any more.”

Even after the regional final defeat, Mattituck third baseman Travis Zurawski was able to keep things in perspective. “The season was still a total success,” he said. “We worked hard all year and we made it here.”

[email protected]

12/29/11 12:01pm

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2011 Educator of the Year?

The Suffolk Times will announced its Educator of the Year in its Jan. 5, 2012 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award in the past decade:

• 2010 — Jean Dempsey

• 2009 — Robert Feger

• 2008 — Charles Kozora

• 2007 — Kathy Williams

• 2006 — Dr. Stuart Rachlin

• 2005 — Mattituck Fund for Students

• 2004 — Ron McEvoy

• 2003 — Chris Gallagher

• 2002 — Brigitte Gibbons

• 2001 — Barbara Ackermann

• 2000 — Ruth Yoskovich