For spectators, watching games in the Town of Brookhaven girls basketball summer league is like taking a peek at what the coming school season can be like for some teams. For coaches, the league offers a chance to assess players and find ways to fill team needs. For players, it is an opportunity to refine skills and improve.
That all began on Monday night for the league’s small school varsity teams. Among them were the Southold First Settlers and the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs, who met in the first game of a varsity tripleheader at Shoreham-Wading River High School.
The aggressiveness and intensity was another level from the junior varsity game that preceded it, but the final score sounded like something from a JV game: 21-15, in Southold’s favor.
For some players, the summer league is where they get their first taste of varsity action. But the only player who made her varsity debut in this game was McGann-Mercy sophomore Carrie Gehring. Both sides have some veterans they can rely upon. Southold has Melissa Rogers, Sydney Campbell and Nicole Busso. McGann-Mercy has Karlin McIntyre, Brieanne Bieber and Anna Crowley.
But even veterans need to get back into the swing of things.
“You could tell that they haven’t played basketball in a while,” Southold Coach Amanda Barrilo said of her players. “They definitely improved from the first half to the second half.”
Signs of shooting rust were evident in the game, particularly on the McGann-Mercy side. The Monarchs shot 23.8 percent from the field and 5 for 16 from the free-throw line. Southold shot 32.1 percent from the field.
It was a JV score at halftime: 8-8.
The summer league games consist of two 22-minute halves of running time, with the clock stopping for play stoppages in the final minute of each half.
Baskets by Busso and Rogers opened the second half, and Southold was in front the rest of the way, never by more than seven points.
Rogers led Southold with seven points to go with six rebounds, three blocks, an assist and a steal. Busso had 10 rebounds along with four points, one assist and one steal.
But the game’s leading scorer was McIntyre with nine points. The problem for the Monarchs was that no other player had more than two points.
“I think the first half was better than the second, but I think we did well, even though the points weren’t really there,” said McIntyre, a senior.
It was a good beginning for Southold.
“We’re not really concerned about wins,” Busso said. “We’re more concerned with the learning experience and learning to play with each other. Today was definitely a great first game. We can only improve from here.”
Enjoyment is certainly part of the summer-league game plan for the First Settlers. “I think the most important thing is for them to have fun because if they get burned out during the summer, come November, I won’t have a team,” said Barrilo.
McGann-Mercy is making the transition to playing without its former big player, Amy Boden, who has graduated.
“Losing Amy was big because they were so used to looking for Amy all the time,” said McGann-Mercy Coach Jacki Paton.
In the meantime, Paton said, the Monarchs don’t have a true post player, and players like Elizabeth Hartman, Mairead Glynn, Danielle Gehring and Amanda Burriesci are working on their low-post moves.
That is where playing in a summer league can make a difference.
“You have to play just to get awareness,” Paton said. “If you pick up one move out of summer league, it was so worth it.”