12/12/13 4:30am
12/12/2013 4:30 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.


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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07/24/12 1:36am
07/24/2012 1:36 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s new coach, Joe Read, addressing his team during a summer league game on Monday evening.

The Joe Read experience has hit Southold.

Coaching changes are nothing new for the girls basketball program at Southold High School. For the fourth time in three years, the team has a new coach, but perhaps the First Settlers have never had a coach quite like Read before.

Read follows the recent coaching succession that saw Dennis Reilly, Amanda Barrilo and then Katie Hennes run the First Settlers. In Read, Southold has a coach formed from his own unique mold. The colorful Read, with his wavy white hair, glasses and ever-present smile, brings energy, enthusiasm and his trademark sense of humor to his new post.

“He is a different type of breed,” forward Melissa Rogers said. “He’s totally different than any other coach we have had.”

Read, 56, who coached Bishop McGann-Mercy’s junior varsity team the past five seasons, also has an extensive background coaching football and boys basketball. However, this marks the first time that the Shelter Island resident has been the head coach of a varsity girls basketball team. “I’m the oldest rookie,” he said.

Read has taken over a Southold team that remains largely intact from the one that reached the Southeast Region Class C final last season. With a loss to powerhouse John A. Coleman Catholic in the regional final, Southold fell one win shy of a place in the state semifinals, winding up with a 16-7 record.

Lauren Ficurilli is the only player that the First Settlers lost from that team who saw significant playing time, so the outlook is bright for Southold, which will join forces with Greenport to form a consolidated team and compete as a Class B team this coming winter. “It may be a new coach, but it’s not a new team,” said forward Nicole Busso.

Read likes the players he has to work with, including incoming seniors Sydney Campbell, Carley Staples, Busso and Rogers. Busso playfully dubbed the foursome “The Fab Four.”

“They know each other really well. The only thing I can do is screw it up,” Read said, letting out an infectious laugh.

Rogers said: “He told us he’s in it for the long run, and he really knows his stuff. He’s very verbal and it’s a shock to our team because we had quiet coaches before, really. I think it’s a really good change. … He has so much energy. He can really bring us to that next level.”

Read’s coaching past included time as the head coach of McGann-Mercy’s varsity football and boys basketball teams. Those aware of his background must have done a double take Monday evening at the sight of Reed coaching Southold against McGann-Mercy and the Monarchs coach he used to work with, Jacki Paton, in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League game at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Abby Scharadin of Southold straining to put a shot over Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Emily St. Louis.

“That was bittersweet,” Read said after Southold’s 25-17 win. “I’ve been at Mercy for a while, so it was hard looking over there at those girls. Most of them played for me last year.”

As a coach, Read brings intensity to the court, and he’s not afraid to think outside the box. One season, as the coach of McGann-Mercy’s boys basketball team, he devised an aggressive, hounding defense that, while not necessarily making for beautiful basketball, made life miserable for opposing teams. After one particularly grueling game that occasionally took on the appearance of a rugby match as McGann-Mercy players hit the floor and tried to wrestle the ball away from the opponent, Read was asked what type of defense he employed. “That’s my own special creation,” he said, rubbing his hands together with a proud grin on his face.

Read said he likes what he has seen from his players this summer. “They’re physically tough, but they’re mentally very tough, too,” he said. “They have a real good court presence. … I think the sky’s the limit with this group, I really do.”

Southold capitalized on 30 turnovers by McGann-Mercy and held a 13-4 advantage on the offensive boards to win Monday night’s game and bring its record to 4-4. Busso was her productive self, scoring 6 of Southold’s first 8 points. She finished with a game-high 12 points. Staples had 8 points (most of them from a pair of 3-point shots), 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

Southold shot 5 for 9 from the field during a 13-0 run that gave the First Settlers a 16-9 lead early in the second half.

One of Southold’s top players, Rogers, watched the game from the bench in street clothes, with her troublesome right knee bandaged. Last October Rogers injured the knee in a fall league game, spraining a medial collateral ligament. In addition, she said, she has a faulty knee alignment and patellar tendonitis. “It’s painful,” she said.

Rogers said that if she needs to undergo surgery, she hopes to complete her physical therapy in time to be back on the court in November.

“I’m crossing my fingers,” she said. “I’m going to be training in the gym every day, going to [physical therapy] as much as I can and really trying to get in shape and finally have a healthy, no-injury season.”

When a healthy Rogers does return to the court, she will rejoin a team expected to play an up-tempo style and perhaps make another run deep into the postseason.

“It’s going to be really a great team to watch,” Rogers said. “I think we have a lot to offer as a team. Last year was the most unbelievable year I could ever think of with this team. All we want to do is go higher and go to states. No one said we could go as far as we did last year, and we really believed in ourselves and as a long as we do that we can do anything.”

In the meantime, Read has committed to his new basketball home.

“I’ve been around,” he said. “I’m going to stick here.”

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01/04/11 5:07pm
01/04/2011 5:07 PM

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Joe Read said his decision to step down as the Bishop McGann-Mercy football coach, a job he loved, was "extremely" tough.

Joe Read, who helped keep the struggling Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School football program alive, stepped down as the team’s coach on Tuesday.

Read, who had a 10-23 record in four years with the Monarchs, said his decision was “extremely” tough and he had regrets. “You got to look at yourself and say, ‘Are you getting the job done?’ ” he said. “It’s a sad day for me because I really did love that job.”

Read, 53, who graduated from the Riverhead Catholic school in 1975, guided the Monarchs to their first playoff appearance in 16 years in 2008. Last season McGann-Mercy was hit by injuries it couldn’t afford and went 2-6 in Suffolk County Division IV. In each of the past four years under Read, the Monarchs finished higher in the standings than they were seeded in preseason coaches polls.

“I thought Joe did a good job,” Bishop McGann-Mercy Athletic Director Paula Nickerson said. “He definitely bleeds the green and gold, and I like that about Joe a lot.”

Nickerson said she has posted the opening for the position and is accepting applications through Jan. 21. She said she would like to have a new coach in place by early February. Asked if she preferred to hire from within or outside the school, Nickerson replied that she is “looking for the best person.” She said she would like to form a committee including herself, parents, and perhaps some players and students, to be involved in the selection process.

An unforeseen twist of events brought Read, a Shelter Island resident, to the Monarchs. He had been an assistant coach at several schools, including Mercy. After Bryan Schaumloffel resigned as the Monarchs’ coach in 2007, Mike Agostino was hired to replace him. But Agostino left the team before the first preseason practice in order to accept a guidance counselor position at William Floyd High School. That paved the way for Read, who was to be one of Agostino’s assistants, to take on his first varsity football head coaching job. “I am the oldest rookie,” he joked during the 2007 preseason.

Read relished the prospect of coaching his alma matter. “I had the passion to coach at Mercy and I loved it,” he said. “When I got the job, I was thinking, I can do this forever. But then things change, you don’t win.”

Numbers were against Read and his Monarchs. By his count, in his time as coach, the Monarchs never had more than 18 true varsity players to work with, and that 2008 team had only 13. “There are no coaching books for coaching 13 kids,” Read said. “I’m going to write one.”

Because of the lack of depth, Read said he had three rules for his players: show up for practices on time, call in advance if you can’t make a practice, and don’t get hurt.

Over the last few years McGann-Mercy didn’t have a junior high school team to develop young players. Last year’s junior varsity team played only four of six scheduled games because it did not have enough players after some players were called up for varsity duty.

“The numbers have not been good,” Nickerson said. “It’s amazing the program even survived here. It’s a miracle.”

Read’s time was marked by an infectious sense of humor, great energy and enthusiasm (at times he appeared even more pumped up for games than some of his players) and a zest for creative, aggressive offense, full of trick plays. Opponents had grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected from Read’s play calling. Read said much of that creativity was out of necessity, with the Monarchs often lacking the depth and size to match their opponents.

Read has not ruled returning to the football sidelines. Football has been a big part of his life. His father, Henry, was a legendary coach for defunct Seton Hall High School in Patchogue. Joe Read figures he has spent all but five of his years in the fall as a football player, coach or accompanying his father on the sideline during games.

“I love football,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really hard in the fall. It’s like a farmer when it’s time to harvest.”

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