By Gavin Menu; Photography by Michael Heller
Some non-league losses sting so much more than the others.
Rival East Hampton bussed up Route 114 Friday night and left Sag Harbor with an all too familiar result, a 65-54 boys basketball victory that solidified the Bonackers’ stranglehold over Pierson in recent years.
Senior guard Thomas King paced a balanced attack for East Hampton scoring 16 points to go with 13 rebounds. Thomas Nelson, Juan Cuevas and Danny McKee also scored in double figures for East Hampton.
Ian Barrett and Jake Bennett scored 14 points apiece to lead Pierson, which fell to 0-2 on the young season after back-to-back non-league losses.
“One of our goals this year was to beat East Hampton,” Pierson head coach Dan White said amid a crowd after the game had ended. “And the whole game we never got passive, we never gave up.”
The question now for the Whalers is can the short-term hurt lead to long-term motivation and can the sting from the loss be turned against future opponents once there is much more than local bragging rights on the line.
The non-league portion of the season ends for Pierson Tuesday at home against Bayport-Blue Point, with the League VIII schedule beginning next Friday at the Ross School. Before long, Pierson will be facing teams like Southold, Bridgehampton, Greenport and Stony Brook, all of which will be looking to stake claim to the league championship this year.
The Whalers, who lost, 50-46, in overtime against Shoreham-Wading River on Tuesday, jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over East Hampton on Friday, riding a wave of momentum sparked on by a raucous home crowd.
But with King and Cuevas leading the way, East Hampton, which traveled with a rowdy crowd of its own, chipped at the lead and actually took a one-point advantage into the second quarter. From there the Bonackers built a lead that reached 15 at one point late in the game, as the play grew more intense and physical with every passing minute.
Two technical fouls were called, one on each team, and there could have been plenty more as these two teams always seem to bring out the fire in the other. Forrest Loesch and Robbie Evjen, who excelled on defense in the game, fouled out early in the fourth quarter as Pierson could only cut the lead to nine in the waning minutes.
“With two of our better players on the bench we got down 12 or 13 and we could have mailed it in and gone down 20,” White said. “But they stuck with it. This was the best practice we’ve had all year. Nobody in our league is going to come after us like they did tonight.”