04/09/13 8:50pm
04/09/2013 8:50 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ali Hulse swung for two hits and two runs batted in for Bishop McGann-Mercy in its comeback win over Southold/Greenport.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ali Hulse swung for two hits and two runs batted in for Bishop McGann-Mercy in its comeback win over Southold/Greenport.

MONARCHS 9, CLIPPERS 8

For Southold/Greenport, an away game against Bishop McGann-Mercy has been something to look forward to. Stotzky Memorial Park, McGann-Mercy’s softball home in Riverhead, is one of the nicer venues on Southold/Greenport’s schedule.

For the Clippers, though, Stotzky Memorial Park is fast becoming a house of horrors.

McGann-Mercy, which trailed by as many as seven runs, turned in a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to triumph, 9-8, on Tuesday.

Ali Hulse’s bunt single brought in Victoria Pace for the tying run, and Shannon Willmott followed her home on the play as a result of a throwing error for the come-from-behind victory. It was McGann-Mercy’s first and only lead of the game.

“I can’t remember a time when we had a game like this in a while,” said Willmott.

Willmott was immediately reminded by a reporter of the last time these teams played at Stotzky, almost a year ago to the day. In last year’s game, two errors sandwiched around a Karlin McIntyre double in the bottom of the seventh enabled the Monarchs to salvage a thrilling 2-1 triumph.

Miscues (including six errors) by Southold/Greenport also contributed to this latest collapse.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Irene Raptopoulos of Southold/Greenport watching the single she slapped to start the game.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Irene Raptopoulos of Southold/Greenport watching the single she slapped to start the game.

Claire Sullivan started the winning rally for the Monarchs (3-1 overall, 3-1 League VIII) when she was hit by a pitch before later scoring on a groundout by Cassie Densieski. Katie Nolan, who had bounced a single through the infield, scored herself on a single by Pace, slicing Southold/Greenport’s lead to 8-7. After a Willmott single, Michaela Zebrowski turned in what might have been the at-bat of the game. Zebrowski fouled off six pitches from Courtney O’Sullivan before striking out. The third strike was dropped, however, and as a result of two errors on the play, the rally stayed alive as Hulse stepped up to the plate with one out.

Willmott said she liked games ending this way. “It keeps everyone in suspense,” she said. “It keeps everyone on their toes, and no one’s getting bored.”

Of course, the Clippers might have had a different opinion.

“I always tell the girls, ‘Don’t get comfortable’ ” with a lead, Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra said. “I don’t think they did here. I can’t even put it on that. I think that both teams were making really great plays.”

The game started so promisingly for Southold/Greenport (0-2, 0-2), which put up six runs in the first inning and led, 7-0, after two.

“I think once it hit really everyone hard that we were losing 7 to 0, it finally kicked in and we did what we had to do,” said Willmott.

McGann-Mercy pulled itself back in the game. Jackie Zaweski singled in McGann-Mercy’s first run in the third. Then the Monarchs followed that with a four-run burst in the fourth. They undoubtedly got a shot of confidence that inning as Pace, Willmott (two-run double), Zabrowski (run-scoring single) and Hulse (run-scoring single) strung together four straight hits to bring in those runs.

“That inning gave us a lot of confidence,” McGann-Mercy coach Frank Baker said, “and at the bottom of the seventh inning, I called them all together and said to them: ‘We can win the game. All you’ve got to do is put the bat on the ball and be strong. Swing harder.’ ”

When Southold/Greenport was clinging to a 7-5 lead, one could sense a momentum shift. Willmott said, “I kind of noticed that the other team’s confidence was slowly shattering.”

McGann-Mercy’s leadoff batter, Willmott, had a three-hit game as did Pace. Willmott scored three runs. Altogether, the Monarchs totaled 16 hits.

Kim Bracken went 4 for 4 and drove in three runs — all on infield singles — for Southold/Greenport. She also scored a run and stole a base.

“I’m disappointed,” Southold/Greenport first baseman Nicole Busso said, “but I think that we were very equally matched teams, and I honestly can’t wait to play them again because I know that it will be a good game no matter what.”

McGann-Mercy had been involved in only one-sided games before this. The Monarchs had beaten The Stony Brook School, 26-4, and Port Jefferson, 30-7, in addition to suffering a 15-0 loss to Babylon. Pulling out a win in a close game brought value.

Baker said he felt good about his team’s chances in the bottom of the seventh.

“I felt very strongly that they were going to do something because they had to do it, and it was just a matter of putting the bat on the ball and hustling on bases,” he said. “Under pressure, they seem to get stronger.”

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03/13/13 8:00pm
03/13/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, a senior first baseman, has been a regular starter for Southold/Greenport since the second game of her freshman season.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, a senior first baseman, has been a regular starter for Southold/Greenport since the second game of her freshman season.

One can only imagine what was going through Nicole Busso’s mind when, two games into the 2010 high school softball season, she was thrust right into Southold/Greenport’s starting lineup as a freshman first baseman alongside another freshman at the time, second baseman Kim Bracken. Surely, they must have felt some trepidation upon making their varsity debuts in that game.

“It would have been a lot scarier for the both of us if we weren’t together,” said Bracken, who has played on the same team with Busso ever since they were teammates on an all-star team as sixth graders.

The two seniors have remained on the scene ever since, playing side by side. They are entering their fourth season as varsity starters.

“It doesn’t seem like that long ago, honestly, at all,” Busso said after she was reminded of her entrance to the varsity scene. “… It all seems like yesterday.”

One thing Busso and Bracken didn’t forget was what it felt like to be the youngest players on the team. That has affected their leadership roles this year as the team’s most senior members, the only two remaining players from that 2010 team.

“Since me and Nicole were the youngest on the team, we both understand that,” Bracken said. “Nicole always gives back to the younger girls. She says: ‘Hi, I’m Nicole. If you have any questions, ask me.’ ”

Busso said: “The freshmen, specifically, are so open with me, and I love that. I’m not trying to be a big, scary senior. That’s not the mentality behind us. We want them to be able to come up to us and to ask us questions.”

That’s just one of the qualities Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra likes in Busso, who has been a regular, consistent contributor for the Clippers.

“She knows first base,” Marra said. “She’s been playing first base for a long time. She’s not just good at it, she has experience with it. It’s a spot she’s really confident in. She also has a good bat. She’s a pretty well-rounded player.”

Busso was introduced to softball at a young age. She played T-ball and Little League. Her instinct and quick reactions made first base a natural position for her.

“I always had a love for softball,” she said during an interview before Tuesday’s indoor practice at Southold High School. “Honestly, it’s just kind of natural. I’ve grown up playing sports. I can’t imagine my life next year without any of them.”

The Clippers may be reluctant to ponder what life will be like without Busso, who is known for giving all her effort all the time.

Busso said her junior high school coach, Bev Sage, praised her for being the best first baseman she ever coached.

Busso never sat out a softball game for the Clippers because of injury. In her sophomore season she missed some games while she went on a school trip to Europe. Other than that, she has been a regular in Southold/Greenport’s lineup.

Although Southold/Greenport had a rough season last year, going 1-15, Busso played well. “I had a pretty good season,” she said. “We didn’t have the bats last year, either, but I had some nice hits. I had a home run. I hit a triple against Mattituck. I had some hits that were pretty helpful during the season.”

Last season, Busso typically batted third or fourth in the order.

“She’s around there,” Marra said. “She’s also fast, so I have to keep that in mind. She runs the bases well. She has that aggressive, smart running mentality.”

During games, Busso said, she can be loud when she has to be. “I’m vocal and very loud and, I don’t know, I’m just always that voice behind everyone, cheering, just positive energy, trying to keep everyone up,” she said.

But it is Busso’s attitude off the field as well that has been noticed and appreciated.

“Nicole is a very generous player,” Bracken said. “She’s very humble as an athlete. She doesn’t expect the praise at the end, and when she doesn’t get the most recognition, she’s never upset by that because she’s such a team player, and I think that’s a great asset to the team.”

Busso recognizes that she is fortunate to have so many high school games under her belt. She prefers not to consider the end of that playing career, which is just beyond the horizon.

“That’s crazy to think about,” she said. “I don’t even like thinking about it. I don’t want it to end any time soon, so I’m hoping we can pick it up, get to the playoffs and see how well we can do.”

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03/05/13 2:09pm
03/05/2013 2:09 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport catcher Wendy Peterson during Monday's practice.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport catcher Wendy Peterson during Monday’s practice.

It was only minutes after their 2012 high school softball season had ended — a 1-15 season at that — and Southold/Greenport players, brimming with optimism, were already talking excitedly about the season to come.

That season is almost here. On Monday, the Clippers hit the chilly outdoors for their first practice.

“They look motivated and they look ready to go,” the team’s second-year coach, Lori Marra, said.

Perhaps an asterisk should accompany that 1-15 record. Southold/Greenport had an extremely young team last year, with some players having made the huge leap from junior high school softball to the varsity team, skipping the junior varsity level entirely. This year’s squad is just plain young, led by four seniors: second baseman Kim Bracken, first baseman Nicole Busso, pitcher Courtney O’Sullivan and catcher Wendy Peterson.

On the plus side, younger players like shortstop Jessica Rizzo, shortstop Caitlin Grilli, outfielder Alexandra Small, outfielder Leah LaFreniere and shortstop Skye Gillispie all bring valuable playing experience at the varsity level. The only two players lost to graduation last year were catcher Erin Creedon and third baseman Alexis Reed.

“We’re going to keep pushing forward and see where the season takes us,” said Busso, who is a four-year varsity player along with Bracken. “There’s a lot of positive energy being thrown around, and [the younger players are] not really as shy as I expected. They’re very open. They’re asking questions, so that’s a good thing.”

One of the biggest questions facing the Clippers this year is whether or not they will hit better. Bringing runs home across the plate is a high priority.

“In order to win games, you got to put runs on the board,” Marra said. “We definitely need to get our bats going. We worked a lot last year, building, building, building, but this year I’m hoping that we can just take what we did last year and just kind of move forward, have more confidence. Confidence is a big factor.”

Bracken, for one, sounds like she has more confidence in her left knee, which was operated on last November. “I’m still wearing my knee braces, but I’m pretty confident that I’m going to last the whole season,” she said.

The Clippers also took more than a single win from last season.

“I think last year with our record, each of us learned how to take a loss and how to look at the positives more than the negatives of losing a game,” said Busso.

Chilly weather or not, the first practice marked a new beginning for a team hoping to make progress.

“Everyone’s optimistic; they’re excited to play,” Marra said. “It is an exciting time.”

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02/15/13 10:31pm
02/15/2013 10:31 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, the League VIII most valuable player, after Southold's loss to The Stony Brook School in the Suffolk County Class C final.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, the League VIII most valuable player, after Southold’s loss to The Stony Brook School in the Suffolk County Class C final.

SUFFOLK CLASS C FINAL | BEARS 56, FIRST SETTLERS 39

Along with a bold fashion statement came an even bolder statement about the state of girls basketball at The Stony Brook School.

For the second game in a row, Stony Brook walked onto a basketball court Friday wearing green socks. Actually, make that bright neon green socks. Neon green, by the way, is not part of the school’s blue-and-white color scheme.

Madison Rylands, a senior guard, said that in order to try something different, the team picked out the neon green socks, “the most obnoxious [color] we could find.”

It is believed the socks brought the Bears good luck in their final regular-season game, a win over Pierson/Bridgehampton, so there they were again, wearing those same socks for the Suffolk County Class C final against Southold on Friday. Even the team’s three coaches, including the head coach, Steve Harney, wore them.

“It worked last time,” explained Rylands.

And it did work again. Top-seeded Stony Brook not only brought its record to 2-0 when playing in the green socks but, bouncing back from a four-win season in 2011-12, collected its seventh county championship in eight years and eighth overall with a 56-39 defeat of last season’s Long Island champion, Southold. It’s the second title of the season for the League VIII champion Bears (12-4).

“It’s great,” Rylands said after the game at Center Moriches High School. “The dynasty has been returned.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Stony Brook's Allie Damianos defending against Southold's Justina Babcock.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Stony Brook’s Allie Damianos defending against Southold’s Justina Babcock.

Stony Brook triumphed in convincing fashion. Southold (10-7), the No. 3 seed, trailed by 8 points at halftime, but then Stony Brook blew the game open in the third quarter, when it really turned things on. The Bears finished the third quarter on a 21-6 run — while shooting 8 for 12 from the floor — for a 47-26 lead. Ariana Odom scored 9 points during that spurt.

Meanwhile, Southold struggled through 8-for-31 shooting in the second half.

“They shot out of their minds,” Southold coach Joe Read said of the Bears. “They had to be shooting 60, 70 percent. We were missing underneath shots that we normally don’t miss.”

Odom (14 points, 9 rebounds), Rylands (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Keara Vancol (13 points) led the way for Stony Brook, which also received 7 assists from Allie Damianos.

Nicole Busso, the Southold senior forward who was recently voted the League VIII most valuable player by the league’s coaches, had a double-double in her final game for the First Settlers. She scored 11 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

“She is considered the best in our league,” Read said. “She played big in big games. She’s a big-game player, and you can build a team around her.”

The field-goal shooting was in Stony Brook’s favor, with the Bears connecting on 42 percent (21 of 50) of their shots. Southold shot 27.6 percent (16 of 58).

The foul count went against Southold, too, 15-6.

“We were completely ready for this game,” Rylands said. “We knew exactly what to do, and we did it. We were very prepared for this team. We know this team. We know every player by number and by name, so we know exactly what they’re going to do.”

Busso, who walked off the court for the last time along with Southold’s four other seniors — Sydney Campbell, Michaela Christman, Melissa Rogers and Carley Staples — said: “We each gave our hearts. There’s really not much to say at this point.”

Vancol said unity helped Stony Brook this season. Because Stony Brook is a boarding school, the players live together 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Another motivating factor was seeing its string of six straight county titles broken last year. The Bears resolved to do something about that.

“It was difficult,” Vancol said, “but at the same time, I knew that this year is the year that we could do it.”

Read, who completed his first campaign as Southold’s coach, said it was a “great season.” He added: “This year we put our hearts in it. When you lose in a big game it is really depressing, but this season? How many teams are playing right now in Suffolk County.”

Stony Brook is among the select few teams still alive in Suffolk. The Bears will next play in a Suffolk Class B-C game against Southampton or Center Moriches on Feb. 22.

Busso gave the Bears credit. “They brought it,” she said. “They had heart. They wanted it, and they came at us. They wanted that title back, and they got it.”

Now, green socks and all, the Bears are back on top of the Suffolk Class C world.

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02/13/13 12:00pm
02/13/2013 12:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, one of Southold's five seniors, shooting over Pierson/Bridgehampton's Holly Zappola.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, one of Southold’s five seniors, shooting over Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Holly Zappola.

Instead of hearing the cheers of their friends, classmates and families, the five seniors on the Southold High School girls basketball team practiced in an empty gymnasium on Tuesday.

The First Settlers were denied the moments of glory countless high school seniors receive on Senior Night after Smithtown Christian forfeited Tuesday’s scheduled game.

Needless to say, the Southold players had mixed emotions as they prepared for Wednesday’s 5 p.m. encounter at Port Jefferson in a Suffolk County Class C semifinal.

“It definitely would have been nice to have our friends, family and teachers around because they helped us grow our lives and flourish and grow into the people we are today, to celebrate with the people who built you up and the people that made you the person you are today,” senior forward Melissa Rogers said. “It’s upsetting that we could not do that.”

Her senior teammates agreed.

“It was depressing, but in a way it saves the tears that would have to be dropped,” guard Carley Staples said. “It’s sad that I’ll never play another game in this gym. It’s like a second home. It’s tough.”

Added forward Nicole Busso: “It is pretty hard. We know the five of us that have grown up together playing basketball. This is our court. This court defines us. Whether we have a ceremony in front off a crowd or just with each other, it’s still our night, it’s still our year.”

And there is another game to play.

Instead of playing a game 24 hours before an important playoff game and worrying about injuries, the First Settlers were allowed to focus on the task at hand. At the start of practice, the team had its own ceremony as flowers and presents were handed out to the five seniors.

“It was cute and it was meaningful,” guard/forward Michaela Christman said. “I think we were all right with that.”

Christman, for example, received Sour Patch kids, Skittles and Starbursts in her gift basket.

“They know they’re my favorite,” she said. “We each got individual baskets, little balloons. They customized them to look like us and gift certificates and stuff like that.”

At the Southold boys game against Smithtown Christian later that night, the members of the girls team in attendance were recognized.

Sydney Campbell, a guard who sat out practice due to an illness, sang the national anthem, as she has done in prior games.

“It’s sad … but we all know how we feel about each other,” she said. “We know how we feel about the game. Basketball is our sport. We are going to play it no matter what. We don’t need an ending game because we’re not going to stop.”

Originally scheduled for last Friday, the game was postponed due to the blizzard. Southold wanted to move up the game to Thursday, but Smithtown Christian couldn’t.

Southold coach Joe Read put his team through a 90-minute workout.

“It was a good practice for a day before the game,” Staples said. “We practiced what we need to know for tomorrow. We didn’t work ourselves to the point where we’re going to be sore tomorrow. We worked hard mentally. So that’s what you need to do to be a good team.”

Except for a newspaper reporter watching from the stands, the gymnasium was empty.

Read saw the forfeit as motivation. He said the First Settlers (10-6 overall) wound up as the third seed in the tournament because they had an 8-3 league record at the time of the seeding, behind No. 2 seed Port Jefferson (10-7, 9-3). He added that the forfeit boosted the mark to 9-3, but it was too late to help.

“It’s really bad for the seniors,” he said of postponed Senior Night. “I feel bad for them. On top of that, we don’t get the home game the next day. It was a double whammy. It’s been that kind of a season, but hopefully this next season, which is the playoffs, is going to be more. … We’re playing pretty good. I hope we put it together and score points.”

Southold and Port Jefferson split their games. The Royals won at their place, 57-53, on Jan. 3, the First Settlers avenging the loss with a 63-55 home victory on Jan. 30.

“The first time we weren’t prepared for what they had to bring for us,” Busso said. “That was a very disappointing loss. It was our first loss of the season. It was our personal first loss in two years, considering we went undefeated last season until the [Southeast Region final]. It was kind of a wake-up call.”

Read said that he planned to use Southold’s height advantage.

“They’re a little scrappy team,” Read said. “They’re small, but they full-court press the whole game. They are tough.

“So what we want to do is use our height and dictate how the style of game is going to go. The first time we lost to them we were ahead except for the last minute. We had trouble. The second game was not a problem. … We’re looking to be calm with the ball and use our advantages, which is our height and experience.”

01/31/13 10:17pm
01/31/2013 10:17 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carley Staples of Southold is swarmed by Pierson/Bridgehampton's Bridget Canavan (24), Emily Hinz (23) and Meg Evjen (00).

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carley Staples of Southold is swarmed by Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Bridget Canavan (24), Emily Hinz (23) and Meg Evjen (00).

WHALERS 44, FIRST SETTLERS 40

It’s doubtful that anyone could fully appreciate how hard it was for Michaela Christman to watch Southold’s girls basketball team complete one of its greatest seasons ever last year — except Michaela Christman.

The team won the League VIII championship, a Suffolk County crown, its first Long Island championship since 2002, and reached a Southeast Regional final, falling one win shy of a place in the New York State final four. Christman saw much of it, as much as she could take. It wasn’t easy for her.

“Some of the time I needed a break,” she said. “It was kind of hard to watch.”

What was hard about it was being a spectator and not a player. Christman had played in the first few games of that season before her right knee decided it had other plans for her. A torn anterior cruciate ligament put an early end to Christman’s junior season. She underwent surgery, physical rehabilitation, and looked ahead to her senior season in 2012-13.

Christman undoubtedly missed playing. Southold senior Nicole Busso recalled: “Every single game she texted me: ‘How’s it going? What’s the game? What’s the score?’ She is a true basketball player.”

Now Christman, the player, is making up for lost time.

“She worked hard and she came back,” Southold coach Joe Read said. “She plays strong. She’s a tough kid. She has a beautiful shot.”

Christman plays with a brace around her right knee, which after a 44-40 loss to Pierson/Bridgehampton on Thursday night she said was “sore, but it’s fine.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold senior Michaela Christman, who is tightly defended by Pierson/Bridgehampton's Abby Ruiz, sat out almost her entire junior season with a knee injury.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold senior Michaela Christman, who is tightly defended by Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Abby Ruiz, sat out almost her entire junior season with a knee injury.

Christman can play guard or forward. She has been used primarily as a post player lately, with forward Melissa Rogers sitting out her fourth straight game Thursday with an ailing knee and watching from the official scorer’s table. That sounds all-too familiar to Christman, who said, “I know what Melissa is going through right now.”

The First Settlers are grateful to have a healthy Christman on the court again.

“It’s huge having Michaela right now,” Busso said. “I don’t know where we would be [without her]. She’s a huge help down low. She really does everything.”

Christman has rejoined Busso, Rogers and the team’s two other seniors, Sydney Campbell and Carley Staples. That fivesome has been playing together since they were 12, and they have a lot to play for this season. Southold is contending for the league title again, but the upset it suffered at the hands of Pierson/Bridgehampton in Sag Harbor didn’t help. At the start of the day, the First Settlers were tied for first place with The Stony Brook School.

Pierson/Bridgehampton (9-8, 7-4), which may meet Southold (9-5, 8-2) in the playoffs, secured what its first-year coach, Kevin Barron, said may have been the team’s “sweetest” win in two years. When the game ended, the happy Whalers hopped around the court, hugging each other and screaming over their well-earned triumph in a hard-fought, scrappy affair that didn’t see many easy baskets for either side.

Pierson/Bridgehampton, which honored its eight seniors during an emotional pregame Senior Night ceremony, saw three of those seniors score critical points down the stretch. Emily Hinz made a basket despite being fouled by Busso, who fouled out on the play, to snap a 39-39 tie with 43.9 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. A free throw by Abby Ruiz and two more foul shots by Sydnee McKie made it a 44-39 game with 10.1 seconds left.

Kasey Gilbride and Ruiz led Pierson/Bridgehampton with 9 points apiece. Bridget Canavan added 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Busso turned in a tremendous effort, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Abby Scharadin played well, too, for Southold, producing 9 points.

Pierson/Bridgehampton scored the first 9 points of the third quarter — including three straight baskets by Meg Evjen for her only 6 points — to build a 28-17 lead. But Southold gradually whittled away at the lead, tying the score at 34-34, 35-35 and 39-39.

Shooting troubles spelled Southold’s doom, though, especially in the first three quarters when the First Settlers shot 9 of 32 from the field.

Southold was undoubtedly feeling the affects of a hard-played game the day before when it defeated Port Jefferson. That may partly explain why Pierson/Bridgehampton outrebounded the First Settlers, 43-28, and pulled down 23 offensive boards.

“This team loves playing Southold,” Barron said. “It’s always a competitive game, and then on top of that, it’s Senior Night for us. The girls have had this game circled all year. I told them before the game, ‘Show the rest of the league that we’re for real.’ ”

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01/25/13 7:34pm
01/25/2013 7:34 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Justina Babcock of Southold attempting a layup while The Ross School’s Asuko Saito defends.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Justina Babcock of Southold attempting a layup while The Ross School’s Asuko Saito defends.

FIRST SETTLERS 58, COSMOS 21

Abby Scharadin, the Southold forward who had missed two weeks of basketball and a handful of games with a concussion and migraine headaches, made her eagerly awaited return to the court on Friday. After turning in a fine performance, Scharadin said she felt fine, which is more than probably could be said for The Ross School.

Scharadin and her teammates may have given Ross a headache as Southold cruised to its fifth win in six games, 58-21, in East Hampton.

Aside from the result, the best news of the day for Southold (8-4, 7-1 Suffolk County League VIII) was how well Scharadin played. The junior went through a scare a couple of weeks ago after another player’s chin hit the top of her head. A couple of days after that game, Scharadin said, she began experiencing bad migraine headaches.

“It was pretty scary,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Scharadin was diagnosed as having a concussion, something she had not had before. The prescription? Rest.

“I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I just had to sit in my room. I couldn’t watch TV or do work or focus on anything.”

Scharadin said she never missed a stretch of so many games before in her basketball career. She said she watched one of Southold’s games as a spectator, and that wasn’t easy.

“It was hard just to sit in the stands and not be a part of it,” she said.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold's Nicole Busso, looking for shooting room with Kendall Scala of The Ross School trying to block her shot, put in 12 points.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s Nicole Busso, looking for shooting room with Kendall Scala of The Ross School trying to block her shot, put in 12 points.

A big day came Thursday when Scharadin returned to practice. And then, on Friday, she came off the bench and produced 10 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.

“She did great,” Southold coach Joe Read said. “She stayed live on the court. She didn’t miss a step on what to do. Her feet are just a little slow, but she came right back, she went strong to the basket, everything we like. We needed her back desperately because we were getting thin down low.”

Southold played without one of its frontcourt players, Melissa Rogers, who sat out her third straight game with a sore right knee and watched the game in street clothes. Read said Rogers’ status “is on a game-to-game basis. She can’t get the swelling down.” He added: “It’s tough. It’s toughest on her because she wants to play more than anybody.”

Without Rogers, Southold is more reliant than ever on Nicole Busso, Michaela Christman and Scharadin. Those three worker bees combined for 28 points and 16 of the team’s 32 rebounds against Ross (1-12, 0-9).

Busso and Sydney Campbell scored 12 points apiece.

Southold opened the game with a 14-2 lead and never looked in danger of falling behind. By halftime, the score was 25-12 in Southold’s favor, with Busso putting in 8 of those points.

In the third quarter, Southold used a 17-0 run to build a 44-14 lead.

For the game, Southold shot 54 percent (27 of 50) from the field and its bench outscored the Ross reserves, 20-4.

“There was no real letdown in intensity,” Read said. “Everybody’s hungry, and when everybody’s hungry, that’s a good thing.”

Ross received 6 points apiece from Gabby Mert and Izzy Milligan.

Southold, the defending league champion, started the day near the top of the standings with The Stony Brook School and Port Jefferson. All three teams had only one league loss going into Friday’s games.

The playoff-bound First Settlers have two huge games coming up on back-to-back days. They will play at home on Wednesday against Port Jefferson, the only team to beat Southold in league play in two seasons, and then they will hit the road Thursday for a contest against Pierson/Bridgehampton in Sag Harbor.

“Now it’s go hard and show who we really are,” Busso said. “We have to prove that we’re up there, we should be number one.”

Having Scharadin back in the rotation helps.

“I’m really excited to be back,” she said after Friday’s game. “It was great. I’m glad to be back. I felt like a real basketball player.”

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01/08/13 10:00pm
01/08/2013 10:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shannon Quinn of Southold facing defensive pressure from Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Emily Hinz.

FIRST SETTLERS 47, WHALERS 41

As far as escape acts go, this one wasn’t bad. Meet the escape artists of Suffolk County League VIII girls basketball: the Southold First Settlers.

After trailing by as many as 13 points and losing one of its best players to injury, Southold somehow clawed its way back and pulled off a 47-41 triumph over visiting Pierson/Bridgehampton on Tuesday night. It was the fourth win in five games for Southold (4-3, 3-1).

The victory did not come without a price, though. Sydney Campbell left the game with a jaw injury. Campbell, whose jaw collided with the head of Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Sydnee McKie-Senior during a scramble for a loose ball, left the game with 7 minutes 8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The senior was attended to by emergency rescue personnel in the team’s bench area before being later rolled out of the gym on a gurney to a round of applause from the fans.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Southold forward Nicole Busso replied after being asked about the play in which Campbell was injured. “I just turned around and saw a lot of blood, to be honest.”

Southold coach Joe Read said Campbell was “scared because she couldn’t close [her jaw]. It didn’t break, though, I didn’t think.” He added: “I’m praying that she’s all right and nothing’s wrong. Forget basketball, I want her to be healthy.”

Before her departure, Campbell had provided Southold with 10 points in what was a somewhat odd, most definitely ugly game. The teams combined for 67 turnovers.

“It was a win, but it wasn’t a pretty win,” said Busso.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s airborne Melissa Rogers attempting a shot over Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Abby Ruiz.

Neither side shot well from the field in the second half. Pierson/Bridgehampton went 4 of 18 and Southold went 3 of 17. The big difference in the game, though, was at the free-throw line, where Southold shot 24 of 39. Pierson/Bridgehampton made 7 of 14 free throws.

Southold earned its first lead since 1-0 when a free throw by Justina Babcock 32 seconds into the fourth quarter made the score 34-33. Later in the quarter, Pierson/Bridgehampton (5-6, 3-2) drew even at 39-39 thanks to a 3-pointer drilled by McKie-Senior and a free throw by Emily Hinz.

But Southold finished strong. A big 3-pointer by Babcock started a game-ending 8-2 run and had Read exulting on the sideline. Busso and Melissa Rogers both made two free throws apiece down the stretch for the First Settlers.

“It kind of slipped away from us,” Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Kevin Barron said. “You got to play 32 minutes against good teams, and Southold’s a good team.”

Pierson/Bridgehampton forward Bridget Canavan clearly wasn’t pleased afterward. “It made me upset because we could have played so much better, and our passes, it was like hot potato,” she said. “We didn’t know what to do. We were scared, I guess.”

Rogers finished the game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks. Busso had 5 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal. Babcock had 8 points.

Canavan paced Pierson/Bridgehampton with 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. McKie-Senior chipped in 8 points.

Southold may have surprised Pierson/Bridgehampton by not going with its usual starting lineup. Instead, Read sent out an all-junior starting five of Shannon Smith, Shannon Quinn, Cindy Van Bourgondien, Megan Van Bourgondien and Busso.

But things weren’t flowing for the First Settlers in the early going. Pierson/Bridgehampton opened the game by taking a 15-2 lead. Canavan and Abby Ruiz combined for 13 of those 15 points for the Whalers. It was a near-disastrous start for Southold, replete with what Busso called “devastating plays.” Busso said: “I honestly think that this game was more mental than physical. We knew what to do, but it wasn’t … coming together at all.”

Meanwhile, the Whalers had to be feeling good about the way things were going for them up to that point. “I thought that we had this game,” said Canavan.

By late in the second quarter, though, Southold cut that lead to 22-20 when Michaela Christman hit a short-range jumper, capping a 9-0 spurt for the First Settlers. They were on their way to a rather dramatic turnaround.

Canavan said it was a tough loss, but a “good loss” because it taught her team a valuable lesson.

“Never give up,” she said.

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