After sweating it out, Pisacano gets her Florida wish

Mattituck senior Stephenie Pisacano’s wish to play in Florida came true. She will play for Florida Southern.

Say this about Stephenie Pisacano, she stuck to her guns. She wanted to play college basketball in Florida, and she will get the chance to play college basketball in Florida.

Not that the Mattituck High School senior didn’t cut it close.

Pisacano has committed to play for Florida Southern, an NCAA Division II team. Following a two-hour tryout in which Pisacano competed against Florida Southern’s players, Mocs Coach Jarrod Olson, who had never seen her on the court before, told the stunned guard that she had made the team.

“He just gave me a roster spot right there,” Pisacano said. “I felt really weird just standing there. It was almost out of a movie. It was just too simple.”

Pisacano, a three-time all-county player for Mattituck, scored a school record 1,480 points as a five-season starter for the Tuckers. In her senior season, she averaged a team-leading 16.3 points per game as well as 4.2 steals, 3.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

Although she estimated that 11 to 14 college teams not based in Florida had expressed an interest in her, Pisacano was adamant about playing in Florida. “I just absolutely hate the cold,” she said. “I just wanted to get away from it.”

Speaking of her determination to limit her choices to Florida schools, Pisacano said, “I was pretty stubborn about it, which made it dangerous.”

After Mattituck was ousted by the Center Moriches Red Devils in the Suffolk County Class B final, her father, Steve, took her to Florida for a tryout at Barry University in Florida. When they pulled into the parking lot a half-hour before the tryout was to begin, Stephenie Pisacano looked around and decided on the spot that she didn’t want to go to school there. She never walked into the gym.

Steve Pisacano was apparently not too pleased. From there they made a largely silent four-hour drive to Florida Southern. “It took him about two and a half hours for him to ask me if I had to go to the bathroom,” said Stephenie.

Steve Pisacano said, “It came down to the 11th hour, and I was starting to sweat.”

Florida Southern was looking to fill two roster spots from a pool of about 60 players, which Olson said is smaller than usual. Pisacano was one of the chosen ones.

Olson said he liked Pisacano’s work ethic and determination.

“She really played her butt off,” he said. “She played really hard. You could tell she was a real hustler. Those are the kind of things that you can’t really fake.”

Olson said he was also impressed by the way Pisacano handled herself against college players. “We have a couple of really good guards, and she was not afraid to go in there and challenge,” he said.

Steve Pisacano said his daughter hit three-point shots, stole balls and made layups during a four-on-four scrimmage. “She just did great,” he said.

Stephenie Pisacano evidently felt the pressure to perform. “If I didn’t make this team, I wasn’t playing basketball,” she said. “That was kind of my last shot. The way I played showed that.”

Florida Southern went 19-9 last season and returns all but one starter. Pisacano joins the team as a non-scholarship player, but could work her way into being a scholarship player.

“Anything is possible,” Olson said. “We don’t put any limits on kids. My main hope for Stephenie is she can come in and challenge our better players and make them better.”

Pisacano, who played in about 115 high school varsity games, has basketball smarts. She can play either the point guard or shooting guard positions.

“She’s a smart player, she’ll listen to the coach, and she’ll get better,” said Mattituck Coach Steve Van Dood.

Van Dood said Pisacano is more than just a scorer. “Passing-wise,” he said, “that girl was an ESPN highlight film.”