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Mary Louis sophomore jump ship to St. Mary’s

TimesLedger Newspapers

Mary Louis’s prized freshmen class from a year ago is no more.

Sophomore star point guard Mei-Lyn Bautista, highly touted forward Jordan Agustus and reserve guard McKayla Hernandez are all transferring from the Jamaica Estates school to St. Mary’s in Manhasset, L.I., their parents said.

They entered TMLA as arguably the best freshmen group in New York City and were immediately placed on the basketball varsity. Bautista and Agustus were both starters. The group exits along with guard Jasmine Nwajei, who transferred to Murry Bergtraum during the season.

“That made the transition easier and perfect,” Agustus’ mother, Nicole Walker said. “We are all like family.”

Each player gave a different reason for their departure and the parents said the decisions became official in the last few days. Hernandez left because of travel concerns, Bautista said Mary Louis wasn’t what she expected and wanted a change, and Walker felt St. Mary’s would be a better fit academically for her daughter.

“We just wanted to try something new,” Mei-Lynn’s father, Butch, said.

All three praised Hilltoppers Coaches Joe Lewinger and former assistant Kevin White for all they had done for their daughters. Lewinger said he and White spoke recently, when he informed Lewinger he would not return. Junior varsity Coach Joann Arbitello will be back.

“Jordan’s mother has spoken to the administration and McKayla’s mother has spoken to the administration,” Lewinger said. “I was unaware that Mei was leaving. No one was contacted or told otherwise.”

The freshmen helped Mary Louis post a 13-17 record over the winter and reach the CHSAA Class A state final in a year that saw the club come in with much higher expectations. The three are eligible to play right away because CHSAA Nassau/Suffolk’s bylaws allow freshmen to transfer without any restrictions. TMLA’s junior varsity won the CHSAA city title last season.

“I wish them the best of luck,” Lewinger said.

St. Mary’s Coach Tom Flynn did not return phone messages Aug. 27. His squad went 12-13 last season and has played second fiddle to league powers St. Anthony’s, St. John the Baptist, Holy Trinity and Kellenberg in recent years.

Butch Bautista said the decision wasn’t personal. His daughter has played for White since she was in grammar school at St. Kevin’s and the NYC Heat. Bautista said the decision was made independent of White leaving. They considered staying at Mary Louis or heading to Francis Lewis, but picked the Long Island institution to remain in a Catholic school.

“It was tough [to leave] because I did make good friends,” Mei-Lynn Bautista said. “The school was great. It’s always hard to leave people who [you] are close to. It wasn’t easy, but I did what I wanted to do.”

The threat of Bautista leaving made Hernandez reassess his daughter’s situation even more. He’d give her rides to school, but she would often stay with Bautista instead of having to travel all the way home after practice. He said she would be up until 1 a.m. doing homework before doing the process all over again the next day.

They looked at other schools on Long Island, but settled on St. Mary’s.

Agustus, who missed a bulk of time with knee tendonitis, told the Post in late July that she would not be returning to Mary Louis. Her mother, who recently moved from Yonkers to Queens, felt she grew as a person at Mary Louis, but that St. Mary’s was a better fit academically for Jordan.

“She will fit in more there,” Walker said. “It’s more comfortable.”

The trio all having interest in St. Mary’s and ending up play together will ease their transition.

“They are all kind of close to each other. It was a no-brainer,” Jay Hernandez said.

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