Pierson Boys Basketball Rebuilds for New Season
By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
Anytime you lose a player like Forrest Loesch, whose energy and ability drove the Pierson boys basketball team over the last two seasons, there are going to be holes to fill.
“But I’m optimistic,” Whalers head coach Dan White said on Monday, a week into practice for the new season. “Part of me says I’m sure we’ll go through some dry spells because Forrest and Ian [Barrett] were such prolific scorers and playmakers. But I was always hiding them defensively because I didn’t want them to get into foul trouble. Now we have a lot more options defensively.”
The team will lean heavily on senior forwards Robbie Evjen and Ben Kushner, as well as sophomore guard Sean Sloane, to fill the scoring void left by Loesch and Barrett, who graduated last June. Keith Ellis is the only other senior on the team, which in many ways will be rebuilt from last season.
“Our JV team was undefeated last year, and a lot of those guys are coming up and are going to help us,” said White, pointing to a crew of juniors who specialize on the defensive end of the court.
Andrew Roberts, Stephen Musnicki, Andrew James, Rojuan Patterson, Jack Schleicher and Baxter Potter all move up after leading the JV team last year. Their defensive intensity, rather than the offensive punch provided by Barrett and Loesch last season, will likely be the calling card for this group of Whalers, according to their head coach.
“Those guys are all excellent on-the-ball defenders and that gives us a lot of options,” White said. “You throw in Sean and Keith as defenders, and there’s seven guys that can really get after it.”
Evjen will be the team leader on the offensive end, according to White, who pointed out that Evjen averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game last year as a junior.
“And he played a lot this offseason,” White said. “He has the size and he will be the focal point of our team.”
The schedule this season will be difficult, with League VIII coming in strong from top to bottom. Stony Brook, the defending league and Class C champion, returns as one of the favorites, with Bridgehampton, Southold, Greenport and Shelter Island all boasting strong teams. Even the Ross School and Smithtown Christian, traditionally two of the weaker teams in the league, have good players and the ability to win games.
“I’m glad the league is getting better,” White said. “It used to be you were guaranteed 10 wins. This year we’re going to have to battle to make the playoffs.”
Pierson will compete in the first annual Kendall Madison Tip-Off Classic at East Hampton High School over the weekend of December 5 and 6. The Whalers will play East Hampton on December 5 at 6:15 p.m., with the winner advancing to play either Mattituck or Westhampton Beach in the final.
Following a non-league game against Bay Shore on December 9, the Whalers will kick off the league season at Bridgehampton on Friday, December 12, at 6 p.m.