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Girls Basketball: Southold’s Santacroce signs on with Ithaca

Moving from one school — and basketball team — to another is nothing new for Gianna Santacroce. Soon the Southold High School senior will be making yet another move — into the college basketball world.

Santacroce, who has played for three high school basketball teams, signed an acceptance letter Thursday, committing to NCAA Division III Ithaca College in a ceremony at Southold High School.

Asked what thoughts were running through her mind while she put pen to paper, Santacroce answered: “Just refreshing, like finally! It was crazy, especially with COVID and everything. It was just kind of like something I could kind of like scratch off my [to-do] list.”

She also said she felt “an enormous amount” of pride.

It has been an interesting journey, with several stops along the way. Santacroce played her freshman season at Bishop McGann-Mercy before transferring to St. Anthony’s for her sophomore and junior years. The shooting forward joined the Greenport/Southold team her senior year after moving to Southold. She said she has enjoyed every stop along the way.

“The way I played definitely changed between all three different schools, but all of my teammates were great and I enjoyed being with them, every single year with whatever team it was, so it was really good,” she said.

Santacroce helped the Porters reach a conference final and finish with a 5-2 record. She averaged 18.3 points and 13 rebounds per game, earning All-Conference status.

“She was a very big contributor for us this year,” coach Skip Gehring said. “She had some big games for us. She hit some very, very big shots. She’s a very, very good three-point shooter.”

Gehring said Santacroce added an offensive dimension to the team “that we really didn’t have, which was an outside shooter and really took a lot of the pressure off of Adrine [Demirciyan] because everyone would key on Adrine. So, it gave us another offensive weapon that helped Adrine become a pure point guard.”

Santacroce said she had given serious consideration to Western New England and SUNY-Oneonta, but ultimate chose Ithaca because it is near Cornell University and “gives you that college feel and the campus is beautiful and the sports facilities are just amazing.”

Santacroce said she has wanted to play college basketball since she was a seventh-grader and credited her parents, Linda and Kevin, for helping her reach this stage. “It’s all I’ve been doing to get to this point,” she said.

Her older sister, former McGann-Mercy standout Melina Santacroce, played for New York Tech before transferring to Misericordia University (Pennsylvania), where she recently completed her junior season.

Of her shortened senior season, Gianna Santacroce said: “I loved it, honestly. Just with COVID and everything, you just have to take what you have and go with it, and I honestly enjoyed every second of it. I wish it could have gone on for longer.”