By Jacob Sisson
The Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers (9-10, 8-3) moved one step closer to their goal of winning the Suffolk County Class “C” Championship by seeing off the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs (9-8, 8-4) 35-32. The Lady Whalers now move on to face the Stony Brook Bears (12-5, 11-1) on Tuesday in the championship game to be played at Saint Joseph’s College in Patchogue at 5 p.m.
It was the second time this season a game between the Lady Whalers and the Monarchs came down to the wire, as the score remained tied at 30 with only 1:30 left on the clock.
Pierson/Bridgehampton managed to edge their way ahead in the final 90 seconds, and while it looked like a missed free-throw might give Mercy a way back into the game, senior forward Kaci Koehne grabbed one of her 17 rebounds to seal the win.
It was a back-and-forth affair with both teams canceling each other out across the game’s first three quarters. After 24 minutes of play, Pierson was down 27-26, and needed a fourth quarter rally to extend their season.
Pierson/Bridgehampton eked out a nine-point quarter, and held their opponents to a mere five points, to give the Lady Whalers a big momentum boost heading into Tuesday’s county championship.
It was a defensive struggle between two teams who had their two major scoring threats mostly silenced throughout the game. On the Lady Whalers’ side, senior guard Sarah Barrett was held to well below her season average with a mere five points, while Mercy’s Amy Boden could only muster three, all from the free throw stripe. In the first meeting between the two teams, Barrett erupted for 23 while Boden led Mercy with 15.
Stepping into the gap for Saturday’s matchup was senior forward Samantha James, who scored 13 points. Senior guard Amanda Busiello and sophomore guard Emily Hinz each had six points, with the former hitting a clutch three-pointer late in the fourth quarter, the only one of the night for the Lady Whalers, to give Pierson/Bridgehampton its winning margin.
Kaci Koehne added three points to her 17 rebounds, while freshman Kaci Gilbride hit a pair of free throws to score her only points of the game.
Pierson/Bridgehampton’s win erased some bitter memories for the Lady Whalers, who lost their previous meeting 40-31 in a game that was played in Mercy’s home gym. Home-court advantage seemed to be key in a matchup largely even on paper, as the Lady Whalers came away victorious in both games played on their own home floor.
Home field advantage goes right out the window as Pierson/Bridgehampton heads to Saint Joseph’s to face Stony Brook on Tuesday. Stony Brook won Suffolk County’s League VIII with an 11-1 record, but lost their only league game of the year in a key home matchup against the Lady Whalers.
Pierson/Bridgehampton will be looking for revenge for not only their 40-28 road defeat on February 28 to the Bears but also for last year’s 51-28 loss to Stony Brook in the Suffolk County Class “C” semi-finals. The Lady Whalers have come a long way since last year’s playoff loss, and with five seniors leading the way, the Lady Whalers will have one goal in Tuesday’s championship game: win.