07/23/13 5:00pm
07/23/2013 5:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Sydney Campbell of Southold plays sorority sister Elle Woods in  North Fork Community Theatre’s production of “Legally Blond,” which opens Thursday.

“Legally Blonde,” the musical based on a novel by Amanda Brown and a 2001 movie, is this summer’s Youth on Stage presentation at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.

The story takes sorority sister Elle Woods (Sydney Campbell of Southold) from UCLA to the halls of Harvard in pursuit of love and a law degree. The NFCT production is directed by Jessica Raven and produced by Susan Hedges, with musical direction by Jacob Boergesson and choreography by Meagan Schmid.

Performances are Thursdays through Sundays, July 25 to Aug. 11. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. A free reception will start at 7 on opening night, Thursday, July 25.

Saturday, Aug. 1, will be a special “Think Pink” night, with all refreshment stand proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Tickets are $20. Go to nfct.com or call 631-298-NFCT (6328).

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.”

01/08/13 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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12/28/12 2:36pm
12/28/2012 2:36 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shannon Quinn focused on collecting a rebound while her Southold teammate Nicole Busso kept her eyes on Quinn.

FIRST SETTLERS 57, HURRICANES 42

The Joe Read system is working. All the indications are there.

For one thing, the high-energy game that the new Southold girls basketball coach has introduced seems to be becoming second nature to his players. How can he tell? It’s simple: They’re yelling at him.

“That’s a good sign,” Read said. “When they start yelling back, then that means they’re getting comfortable with it.”

Another sign was seen Friday in the form of a 57-42 non-league victory over Westhampton Beach. Despite sitting out most of the second half because of an ejection, senior guard Sydney Campbell led eight Southold scorers.

More good signs for Southold.

“That is a good sign,” Southold guard Carley Staples said, “and it just shows that we all contribute to the win.”

Defending Long Island Class C champion Southold showed that it may not be a typical League VIII team. It has the depth and talent to do some good things this season.

With a new coach and a new concept, the First Settlers don’t waste time firing the ball up the court after grabbing a defensive rebound. And their hounding defense can be exhausting for opponents to deal with.

“We call it tenacious,” said Read.

Southold (3-3, 2-0) keeps fresh legs on the court with mass five-for-five player substitutions. Twelve First Settlers played on Friday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carley Staples of Southold wrestling for the ball, with Westhampton Beach’s Kathleen Mensch standing behind her.

Campbell produced 16 points for Southold before picking up her fifth personal foul with 1 minute 22 seconds left in the third quarter.

Visiting Southold, which trailed in the game only once at 6-4, also received 12 points and 6 rebounds from Nicole Busso as well as 9 points from Staples.

“I’m really proud of us,” Staples said. “We came in and we knew what we could do and we proved that we are capable of anything.”

Westhampton Beach senior guard Samantha Vickers led all scorers with 23 points. She fouled out with 1:20 to go in the game.

“She was the one we wanted to stop, and we didn’t do a good job of that,” said Read.

The Hurricanes, a League V team, dropped their overall record to 2-7.

After Westhampton Beach took that 6-4 lead in the early going, Southold reeled off the next 10 points, 7 of them coming from Campbell.

The Hurricanes pulled to within 18-17, but then Southold went on another 10-0 run during which Campbell hit two of her three 3-point field goals.

Southold managed to withstand several threats by Westhampton Beach the rest of the way.

“I think it helped us mentally realize how good we are and how much potential we do have,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of good players, and a lot of people can shoot and contribute. Every single person contributed today, so that was really helpful. It’s not just based on one person or the starting five; it’s really not.”

Southold’s biggest drawback, perhaps, was turnovers — 23 of them, to be exact. Westhampton Beach made 16 steals, including 6 by Katelyn Ogeka.

Other than that, though, it was a feel-good day for Southold. Read was obviously feeling good about what he saw in a game that he said his team “needed” to win.

“We’re going in the right direction,” he said.

How does he know? Why, players are yelling at him, of course.

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12/28/12 12:00pm

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Nicole Busso, left, and Carley Staples rejoiced with their teammates after securing the team’s first Long Island championship since 2002.

Points weren’t easy to come by, but the biggest point of them all in the Southeast Region Class C girls basketball semifinal was the one the Southold First Settlers made: They had what it took to be Long Island champions.

Of course, they needed to put in some overtime to do it.

Southold won its first Long Island championship since 2002 by virtue of its 32-26 overtime triumph over Friends Academy. When the final buzzer sounded, Southold’s reserve players rushed onto the middle of Farmingdale State College’s court, piling onto their teammates and screaming.

“I think we’re just overwhelmed with joy,” said Southold guard Sydney Campbell, who was tackled and wound up at the bottom of the jubilant pile.

Southold didn’t hold a lead until a Lauren Ficurilli basket early in the fourth quarter made it 21-19. Then the First Settlers took charge in overtime. They opened overtime with baskets by Ficurilli and Campbell, who hit the game’s only 3-point shot. Then two free throws by Campbell and another foul shot by Justina Babcock extended a 10-0 run, giving Southold a 32-24 lead that must have seemed like a mountain for Friends Academy to climb with only 20.7 seconds remaining.

After the game, just about all of the Southold players had their cell phones out, undoubtedly texting friends and family members with the news that their season had been extended.

“This is like all we dreamed of — and more,” said Campbell.

That dream came to a crashing halt three days later when Southold ran into an undefeated powerhouse, John A. Coleman Catholic, in a regional final in Farmingdale. A win that would have sent Southold to the New York State final four was not in the cards. Coleman Catholic ran out to an 11-2 lead and never looked back, claiming its fifth straight regional title with a 66-25 rout.

Southold finished with a 16-7 record and a lifetime worth of memories.

“This has been absolutely amazing,” coach Katie Hennes said. “It’s been great. It’s been surreal and it’s been wonderful.”

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11/20/12 7:00pm
11/20/2012 7:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Joe Read, Southold’s fourth coach in three years, making a point during Monday’s practice.

To watch a Southold High School girls basketball practice is to watch Joe Read in action, and that is a sight to behold.

Southold’s new coach moves about the court almost as much as his players. The energetic and enthusiastic Read sometimes participates in drills himself, shouting out encouragement and instructions to his players along the way.

One can tell that Read likes his new job, and why not? There’s an awful lot to like about the situation. Not only is Read taking over the defending Long Island Class C champions, but he’s taking over a team that graduated only three players and one starter from that team, which fell one win shy of a place in the New York State final four.

“The only thing I think I can do is screw it up, but I’m trying to avoid that,” Read said jokingly.

The mere mention of Southold’s magical postseason run is enough to bring a smile to a player’s face. The First Settlers won league, county and Long Island titles before finally succumbing to a superior John A. Coleman Catholic team in the Southeast Region final. Southold, which finished with a 16-7 record, became a Long Island champion for the first time since 2002 when it was a Class D team.

“That was just like a blessing,” Southold shooting guard Carley Staples said during Monday night’s practice. “It was really amazing, and it gives me chills every time I think of it, and I just hope to achieve as much as we can this year, too, and just really give it our all like we did last year.”

A case could be made that Southold is in an even better position this season, with its returning players, including Nicole Busso, Sydney Campbell, Melissa Rogers, Abby Scharadin and Staples, who all saw time as starters.

Now Read, Southold’s fourth coach in three years, is asking his players to put last season behind them and concentrate on the task at hand: preparing for the upcoming season.

“What I’m asking them to do is to expect more out of themselves,” he said. “Let’s forget last year. … Let’s be as good as we can.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Sydney Campbell, one of Southold’s returning starters, attempting a layup during practice.

So far Read has already made an impact, focusing on free-throw shooting and aggressive defense.

Read knows the importance of free throws. He knows a team can win games at the foul line. “Those are free points,” he said.

Staples, one of the team’s five seniors, said, “I never realized that you could change your foul shot this late in your life.”

Campbell said she has reworked her foul-shooting mechanics and has improved tremendously in that area along with her teammates, thanks to Read.

Read brings an interesting mix of competitive fire and humor to the court. “He coaches in a different way than any other coach that we’ve had before, but I really think it’s working and it’s helping all of us,” said Campbell.

Read, who was on Bishop McGann-Mercy’s coaching staff before coming to Southold, is a believer in fast-paced offense and intense — really intense — defense.

And while Read does not want his players to dwell on the past, Staples believes last season’s experience will have an impact on the new season.

“I think we know how good we can be,” she said. “It really boosted our confidence. I feel like we made it that far and we can be as good as we want to be. We just have to keep pushing ourselves.”

Having coached Southold in a summer league and having coached against the First Settlers while he was with McGann-Mercy, Read said he had gotten to know something about the Southold players.

“They’re a very close-knit group and they get along with each other very well,” he said. “That is a tremendous plus.”

He added: “I think they have so much more potential than they’re playing at. I think the sky’s the limit, and so far, I think they believe that, too.”

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