02/18/14 8:36pm
02/18/2014 8:36 PM
Southold/Greenport's Justina Babcock, left, and Pierson/Bridgehampton's Kasey Gilbride both get a hand on the ball. (Garret Meade photo)

Southold/Greenport’s Justina Babcock, left, and Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Kasey Gilbride both get a hand on the ball during the county Class C final in Northport. (Garret Meade photo)

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS C FINAL | WHALERS 54, CLIPPERS 49

The Southold/Greenport Clippers were almost there, and that is what made their ending so painful.

After leading for most of the way, the Clippers were just nipped at the finish line. For Pierson/Bridgehampton, it was the best way to win; for Southold/Greenport, it was the worst way to lose. (more…)

12/12/13 4:33am
12/12/2013 4:33 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's Juliana Cintron-Leonardo driving against Southold/Greenport's Kathleen Tuthill.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Juliana Cintron-Leonardo driving against Southold/Greenport’s Kathleen Tuthill.

MONARCHS 49, CLIPPERS 40

Had Wednesday night’s high school girls basketball game between Southold/Greenport and Bishop McGann-Mercy been a television program, one would have felt a need to check the color on the screen. For one thing, there was Cari Gehring, a former McGann-Mercy player, wearing Southold/Greenport red. And there was Joe Read, a former McGann-Mercy coach, wearing a red sweater and coaching Southold/Greenport.

“It was a surreal feeling,” Gehring said. “When I went out there to shake hands with the captains, I didn’t feel like I should be on the red side. It was just a weird feeling.”

Weird turned to distressing for Gehring as the League VIII opener for both teams went to the white and green of McGann-Mercy, 49-40.

Gehring, a senior guard playing in the McGann-Mercy gym for the first time since she was a sophomore for the Monarchs, swished a 3-point shot from the corner to tie the score for the fifth time, 38-38, with 4 minutes 35 seconds to go.

Moments later, Fiona Nunez, playing with neck tightness, hit a 3-pointer herself to snap the tie and ignite a game-closing 11-2 run for the Monarchs (2-1). The Monarchs scored the game’s last four baskets on back-to-back buckets by Savannah Hauser and then consecutive shots by Dayna Young.

“They never gave up,” McGann-Mercy’s first-year coach, Brian Babst, said of his players. “We have people banged up. We have people injured. We’ve got people not here for illness and stuff like that, and the kids stepped it up.”

And disappointed the two people on the Southold/Greenport side who have McGann-Mercy ties. Read had coached McGann-Mercy’s junior varsity team for four years, but he also coached the school’s varsity football and boys basketball teams and figures his relationship with the school covered 12 years. “Coming back, it was weird,” he said.

Read said he knows most of the current McGann-Mercy players. Gehring, who attended the school for three years before transferring to Southold High School this year, knows all of them, including Nunez, who she said is her closest friend.

Read said his players took the loss hard. Perhaps none of them took it harder than Gehring, who had tears in her eyes during a postgame interview.

“I put extra pressure on myself,” she said. “I felt like I had to prove something.”

With the win came a loss for the Monarchs, who saw one of their players crash hard onto the floor while battling for the ball. Fiona Flaherty, a sophomore forward/guard, took the hard fall with 4:01 left in the second quarter. One observer at the scorer’s table said he saw Flaherty land face first onto the court.

“I was really scared,” Gehring said. “She didn’t look O.K.”

Flaherty laid down on the court while she was being attended to. After a while she sat up to a round of applause. Moments later, she stood up to more applause, but looked unsteady on her feet as she was escorted to the team bench area. The game was held up while emergency rescue personnel attended to Flaherty and took her out of the gym in a wheelchair.

“I was just glad that she was O.K. and she talked with me,” Babst said. “I think she got a little upset, a little scared and a little winded.”

Gehring, who has a reputation for being a scorer, first made it into the scorebook when she canned a 3-pointer 5:02 into the game. She was Southold/Greenport’s high scorer with 14 points, shooting 3 of 7 from the field, 2 of 5 from beyond the arc, and 6 of 6 from the foul line. In addition, she had 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.

Cindy Van Bourgondien grabbed 13 rebounds for the Clippers (0-2).

The Clippers had a terrible time trying to find the basket. They shot a woeful 18.3 percent (13 of 71). During one long, dreadful stretch, from late in the first quarter to about midway through the third, the Clippers shot 1 for 21.
“I was hoping we were going to be better,” Read said. “I was hoping we could pull it together. We just couldn’t put the basket in when we needed to.”

McGann-Mercy’s scoring was balanced. Kayla Schroeher led eight Monarchs scorers with 10 points. Young produced 9 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. Megan Kuehhas added 8 points and 5 assists. Juliana Cintron Leonardo and Emily St. Louis supplied 10 rebounds each.

“It’s looking good,” Young said. “We are a lot better than last year and we’re going to get better.”

That’s Babst’s plan.

“It’s been a rough few years here,” he said. “I’ve only been on the job about a month and we’re trying to implement change and it’s the hardest thing to do, so we’re just trying to get the kids to go in the right direction. Today it was a small step in the right direction.”

Babst wasn’t blind to the sense that the game brought added spice because of the Read/Gehring connection, but he didn’t want his players to lose focus on the task at hand. “I told the kids before the game, I said, ‘You got to focus on basketball,’ ” he said. “So, they somewhat bought into the message, but I could see there was a little bit of hype around it. You heard it all day for the last few days.”

Now the talk should subside, at least until Jan. 18 when the teams meet again in Southold.

“It was a fair game, a good game, a hard-played game,” Read said. “It was everything high school basketball should be, very competitive. It was good. Both teams played hard. So, I’m happy — except for the outcome.”

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11/25/13 5:00pm
11/25/2013 5:00 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Cari Gehring, who has represented the United States in international competition, transferred to spend her senior season with Southold/Greenport.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Cari Gehring, who has represented the United States in international competition, transferred to spend her senior season with Southold/Greenport.

When Joe Read left his job as Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School’s junior varsity girls basketball coach to take over the Southold/Greenport varsity team last season, it wasn’t a package deal. The fact that now, one year later, one of his former McGann-Mercy players has joined the Southold/Greenport ranks is an unexpected bonus for the Clippers.

To some of the Clippers, Cari Gehring’s transfer from McGann-Mercy to Southold High School was puzzling. Why, they wondered, would a player of her ability join the Clippers for her senior season?

“We were like, ‘Why is she coming here?’ ” Abby Scharadin, a senior forward, said. “I mean, at first we were like skeptical of her. Who wants to come play for Coach Read? He’s crazy. But she’s a part of our team now and it feels like she’s been here forever.”

Scharadin was being comical in calling her colorful coach crazy, but she was dead serious when she said she expects Gehring to help the team a lot. She isn’t the only one, either.

Coming from a basketball family, Gehring played for Read’s junior varsity team at McGann-Mercy when she was a freshman. The New Suffolk resident was brought up to the varsity team as a sophomore. As a junior, however, she did not play for the Monarchs, choosing instead to focus on playing with her Westbury-based club team, FST.

Transfers of players of Gehring’s caliber don’t come along every day. She has an impressive basketball résumé. How many high school seniors can say they have played for the United States?

Gehring has. She was a point guard for the United States in the United World Games that were played in Austria this past summer. The experience gave Gehring a taste of what it must feel like to be a celebrity.

“People wanted to take pictures with us,” she said. “People were asking us for our autographs. It was weird because we’re just regular girls. They really like look up to [the] USA. It was like a really overwhelming experience.”

Earlier this month, Gehring played for Suffolk County in an all-star game against Nassau County. She was among 12 players who made the Suffolk team; 75 players tried out for the squad.

On Wednesday Gehring signed a national letter of intent to play for Chestnut Hill College, an NCAA Division II team in Philadelphia. Her older sister, Danielle, a former McGann-Mercy student herself, is a freshman guard/forward for Chestnut Hill.

Gehring undoubtedly has talent.

“She’s definitely a scorer, so she’s definitely going to be putting up points for us,” senior point guard Justina Babcock said. “That’s what we need.”

Even when Gehring was a freshman, Read could tell that she had something.

“She [is] a really tough, tough competitor,” he said. “She will not quit until she’s dead. She’s very strong. She’s a gym rat.”

Now, back to the question of why Gehring transferred. One of the big reasons is Read.

“I just couldn’t imagine my senior year playing for any other coach,” she said. “He helped me so much. I developed so much because of him.”

“He’s really been like one of the biggest people in my life since freshman year and we hated each other at first,” she continued. “I hated coming to practice at first, but I realized everything he says, he does it with good intentions, and he really helps out so much.”

Gehring played for Southold/Greenport’s team in a summer league, but said she was still a bit uneasy about transferring. Her new teammates, though, soon alleviated those concerns, she said.

“The first week of school I thought I was going to hate it, and everybody here was just so welcoming, especially the basketball girls,” Gehring said after Thursday’s practice. “They were just like welcoming me with open arms. It’s been such an easy transition. … Everyone made it so easy for me and I love it here.”

Gehring sees herself as a point guard but the Clippers will most likely use her to fill a bigger need at shooting guard, succeeding the graduated Sydney Campbell. The Clippers already have a pair of fine point guards in Shannon Smith and Babcock.

Gehring unquestionably boosts the Clippers’ stock. Read said Gehring can shoot from outside, but also likes to penetrate and take the ball to the basket.

“The way we play, she’s going to have to hustle to find her shots, just like everybody else,” Read said. “… I have no doubt that she’s going to find ways to get her baskets. Maybe that will pick everyone else’s game up, too.” He added, “She has to shoot when she can and pass when she should, and that’s true of everybody.”

But Read believes the biggest difference Gehring makes is with her defense. That’s encouraging for a team hoping to improve in that area.

“I kept looking at the [score] book and looking at the film last year,” Read said. “We did a great job offensively last year … but what we were doing was as many as we were scoring we were giving back. So this year our emphasis is going to be” on defense. “We’re going to be some team you don’t want to play.”

Read has a good memory. He hasn’t forgotten his team’s loss to Stony Brook in the Suffolk County Class C final last season, a result that left the Clippers with a 10-7 record. He said, “We’ve got a vendetta to repay against Stony Brook.”

For a team that lost Nicole Busso, Melissa Rogers and Campbell to graduation, the addition of Gehring just may be the pick-me-up the Clippers need.

“Here’s what a coach would love,” Read said. “Think about this: A kid takes the game you coach really seriously. They work at it in the off-season. Every time, they’re working in the gym. That’s what she does. What’s not to like?”

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