By Joseph Staszewski
“Dinner is on you.”
Those were St. Mary’s coach Kevin White’s words to his daughter Kerri after his Gaels beat her St. Francis Prep girls’ basketball team 55-42 in Manhasset Tuesday. It was the first meeting between the two on opposite sidelines and there was a little more than bragging rights on the line.
Kerri, who is in her second season as SFP head coach, joked she was heading to McDonald’s after the game with her dad and her mom Maryellen, who literally sat in the stands near midcourt to stay neutral. Kevin, the former Mary Louis head coach, wasn’t going to break the bank, but fast food wouldn’t do.
“We are probably going to Trattoria 35 off Bell Boulevard,” he said. “I’ll keep it a little less expensive.”
While there was some fun to be had on this day, the business of basketball is still a serious thing in the White family. Kevin, who took over at St. Mary’s this season, played college basketball—and so did three of his kids, including Kerri, who played at Pace.
The foundation of the former Archbishop Molloy standout’s basketball knowledge comes from her dad, who coached her in CYO and at St. Andrew’s Avellino, as well as in travel ball. The two were also on the bench together with their NYC Heat travel team.
“It’s cool to get to coach against him after playing for him for so long,” Kerri said. “That’s how most of our relationship has been, revolved around basketball. I learned everything that I know from him.”
The two talk about the game all the time, bounce ideas off each other and did so about each other’s teams before the contest. He’s gone to six of the Terriers’ games and she’s been to three of the Gaels. Both stand with their arms crossed on the sideline and run similar plays.
“He said, ‘I am going to come scout you,’” Kerri said. “I’m like, ‘you know that play.’”
Kevin called it interesting to coach against someone who knows you so well and vice versa. He could hear Kerri call the right offensive set to combat his defense.
“You know what’s coming,” he said. “It’s a matter of who executes better.”
It was the Gaels on this night. They got 23 points from sophomore wing Kadajah Bailey, who is committed to St. John’s and used a 10-0 run over the third and fourth quarters to give her team a 43-27 lead with 7:07 left in game. St. Francis Prep, which was playing without star forward Sofia Recupero, got 10 points from junior guard Dorothy Matinale and eight from Dana Villano.
Kerri is trying to continue the rebuild of the St. Francis Prep program after former coach Kevin Wagner laid the groundwork. Her dad praised her basketball IQ and her passion for getting the job done. While the wins haven’t come just yet, the Terriers’ ability to compete with the top teams in the Brooklyn-Queens division is improving.
“We have come a long way from even last year, it’s good to see their process,” she said. “The games are getting closer that’s all I can really ask for at this point.”
The game between the two programs is going to be an annual thing, with next year’s meeting coming at St. Francis Prep. Kerri hopes the switch in venue means she won’t be picking up the check again.
“Yea,” she said. “Home court advantage.”