Adrine Demirciyan’s situation wasn’t unique. Like many other high school basketball players at the time, she didn’t have a team to play for or games to play in. Thank you, COVID-19 pandemic.
For a while there, Demirciyan was essentially on her own.
“It was really rough,” the Greenport/Southold guard said, noting that she had lost sight of what she wanted to do for a while.
Demirciyan feared the pandemic was messing things up for her — her plans, hopes and hoop dreams.
“I was really worried for a while,” she said. “I mean, it also took a toll on me mentally, I would say, because I would think about it a lot and just say, ‘This is screwing me up a lot.’ ”
Demirciyan said she didn’t play AAU ball for a year and a half and did a lot of training on her own or with the aid of former Porters coach Skip Gehring.
Gehring said Demirciyan was the one seeking him out for workouts. “She wanted to be there,” he said. “She wanted to work out. She kept hounding me.”
Over the summer, Gehring worked with her “easily” four days a week, between two and a half to three hours a day at an East Marion school. And these were intense sessions, running up and down stairs while dribbling a basketball, launching 400 to 500 shots per workout.
Demirciyan would have to say all those efforts were well worth it. The senior signed a national letter of intent last Thursday to play for East Stroudsburg University (Pa.), an NCAA Division II team.
Gehring said: “Within every kid is a college-potential player … It exists in every kid. It’s a matter of how much they want to work to get there, and that’s what Adrine did.”
Of course, Demirciyan had the talent to begin with. It was obvious her first varsity season as a starting eighth-grader.
“There was always a lot of buzz around Adrine and how talented she was,” Greenport athletic director Brian Toussaint said. “I can remember going to girls basketball games early on, and it stood out just how talented she was.”
The 5-foot-7 Demirciyan, who can play point or shooting guard, was an All-County player this past spring. She averaged 17.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 3.1 steals per game. She is approaching a milestone: 1,000 career points. Entering this season, which the Porters will open with a home non-league game against William Floyd Dec. 4, she has accumulated 941 points, 567 rebounds and 396 assists.
Gehring said Demirciyan had drawn interest from Division I schools Fairfield University (Ct.), Marist College, Wagner College and Central Connecticut State University. But Demirciyan, who attended a couple of elite camps at East Stroudsburg, said she quickly realized that was the place for her and verbally committed in early August.
“I really loved the coaches there,” she said. “They’re really chill. They fit what I want in a coach, especially in college. I vibed with the team pretty well.”
Gehring said East Stroudsburg plays a running game that complements Demirciyan’s playing style.
Among those in attendance at the signing ceremony at Greenport High School were Porters coach Chris Golden, former assistant coach Tori Gehring, Toussaint, Demirciyan’s parents, Herman and Darsy, and a few friends.
“I was gifted [with] athleticism, I would say, but I mean, the rest of it was pretty much all work,” Demirciyan said. “Like, God can only give you so much. I mean, Mr. Gehring and I spent a lot of time together working hours and hours … and on my own I do a lot of workouts. I lift all the time. I do a bunch of things. It’s definitely a lot of hard work. Athleticism can only get you so far.”
“My favorite quote actually is by Kevin Durant,” she said. “It’s the one that says hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. So, I would always think of that quote and kind of just, I don’t know, kind of just push myself, I guess.
“I say it a lot of times. When I look at people I’m like, ‘If that person just worked a little harder, they could be so much better.’ ”
Gehring said last season, his fifth as the Greenport coach before stepping down, he placed limits on how many shots he wanted Demirciyan to take because he wanted her to work on her passing and focus on defense. “There’s not a college coach in the country who wouldn’t take a good defensive ballplayer,” he said.
Now East Stroudsburg has one.