As Caryn Nabrizny recalls, when Melina Santacroce and her were freshmen, they told themselves they were going to be the “dynamic duo” throughout high school. Now, three years later, it’s no small thanks to these two seniors that the Bishop McGann-Mercy girls basketball team has become the celebrities of the school.
By this time of the year, the vast majority of girls basketball teams have already turned in their uniforms and rolled their basketballs away into the equipment room. Not Mercy. The Monarchs (15-6) have advanced to a Southeast Region Class C semifinal Tuesday night against East Rockaway (9-11) at Half Hollow Hills West High School.
The hoopsters are the last Mercy winter sports team still standing, and that may have earned them mini-celebrity status.
“A little bit,” coach Meaghan Smith said before a practice last week. “It doesn’t happen very often here where teams go this far in the playoffs. It’s exciting. Everyone wants to come see us, which is kind of cool.”
Nabrizny heartily agrees. “All this is so big for us,” she said. “Getting this far, it’s kind of like you never thought you would actually make it this far. I’m so excited for this next journey of our season. I can’t even describe how proud I am of my team, how everyone puts in dedication and hard work in practice and it really shows on the court.”
It’s significant to note that Mercy has done this with the only two seniors it has: co-captains Nabrizny and Santacroce. The two four-year varsity players dreamed of a county championship since they were freshmen. That aim was realized last month when Mercy beat Stony Brook, 51-28, for the Suffolk County Class C crown. It was Mercy’s first county title since 2004, when Smith played on the team.
Santacroce racked up 21 points, 16 rebounds, six steals, three assists and two blocks, without committing a single foul in that game. Nabrizny was good for nine points, eight rebounds, six steals and five assists.
While not actual super heroes, Nabrizny, a guard/forward, and Santacroce, a center/forward, have been big pluses for Mercy. It’s hard to imagine the team going as deep into the playoffs as it has without them.
“We work very well together,” said Santacroce, a Southold resident who has committed to play for New York Tech at the NCAA Division II level. “I met her in eighth grade with CYO. We played together and we’ve always been friends.”
Entering Tuesday’s game, Santacroce averaged 19.2 points and 16 rebounds per game. Nabrizny averaged 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
How valuable have those two been to the Monarchs?
“So important,” Smith said. “They’re such good leaders on the court and off the court. They understand what it takes to win and the kind of attitude we have to have and the kind of mindset we have to have and how hard we have to work. I think they do a pretty good job leading the team and kind of influencing them through their words and actions. They’re the glue that holds our team together, for sure.”
Asked about her senior season, Santacroce said: “It’s been amazing. I think it’s perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Aside, perhaps, from a regional title and a place in the state final four March 16 and 17 at Hudson Valley Community College.
In the meantime, Nabrizny and Santacroce plan to keep doing what they do.
Said Nabrizny, “We’re still the dynamic duo.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Melina Santacroce driving against Mattituck’s Mackenzie Hoeg in the Suffolk County Class BC final. (Credit: Garret Meade)