By Benito Vila
Anticipation is something endearing songs can be written about; elimination is not. Both the Pierson Whalers and the Ross Ravens are coming to terms with the fact that losses are leaving them out of the playoff mix with just six games left to go.
The Whalers are in the weaker position, a 1-7 mark making the post-season a long shot and one more loss making it mathematically impossible. The Ravens meanwhile, at 4-4, are certainly closer, but unless there’s a victory against the league’s top four teams, the end will come early.
Bridgehampton, at 4-4, is in a better position to play on, mostly the bottom of the league left to play after going to Greenport Friday. The Killer Bees have been competing on par with the league leaders, losing to undefeated Southold, 68-65, Tuesday and to second-place Stony Brook, 64-51, last Wednesday.
In the loss to the Bears last week, the Bees saw a 44-43 lead late in the third quarter turn into a long lost moment, Stony Brook finishing the game on a 21-7 run. Tuesday’s outcome was also tough, a 56-53 fourth quarter lead over the visiting Settlers slipping away on missed opportunities.
After Tuesday’s loss, Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson said, “A break here and there and it’s a different story. We keep preaching execution, but tonight we failed to execute. We had our chance but we didn’t capitalize.”
“I thought we could get one against the big guys [Southold, Stony Brook and Greenport] but we haven’t yet. That makes Friday [at Greenport] even bigger for us.”
Ravens vs. Bees II
The chances of either the Bees or the Ravens playing in the post-season will likely come down to their re-match in “the Hive” in Bridgehampton, February 5. Bridgehampton won the first meeting at Ross, 83-37, ten days ago.
The Ravens have seen a 3-0 start turned around, victories over Smithtown Christian, Shelter Island and Pierson being followed by one-sided losses to the Bees and Coach Johnson’s “big three.”
Despite that, the Ross boys evened their mark Tuesday, besting the Crusaders for the second time, 69-56, at home. Brendan Pettaway, 24 points, and Liam Chaskey, 22 points, paced the Ravens, who used a 25-14 fourth quarter to put the game away. A road match-up with the Indians on Shelter Island awaits Ross tomorrow.
The Crusaders also had a tough time out this way last Wednesday, Pierson going on a 15-5 run in the fourth quarter to earn its first win of the season, 51-41. Tyler Gilbride led the Whalers with 14 points, Skyler Loesch lofting in 11. Gilbride capped the go-ahead run with a steal and lay-up to put Pierson up 10 with a minute left.
Back to Reality
The Whalers came into last Friday’s contest still pumped up, playing the Bees at Pierson, bragging rights and pride at stake. What started as a close game eventually went Bridgehampton’s way, the outside shooting of Canaan Campbell and Cesar Banados sinking the home team, 67-48.
Pierson fell behind 19 early in the third but battled back to make it a six-point game to start the fourth. But then Campbell and Banados settled back in, the pair combining for 17 points as the Bees went on a 20-10 run.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Campbell walked off with six three-pointers and 24 points to leave his former classmates wondering what could have been if he hadn’t changed schools.
Afterwards, Campbell said, “Going against my old school was great. I found out Pierson put in new rims from friends on Facebook and I wanted to break them in right.” Citing the difference in the game, Campbell was modest, describing his team’s ability to switch up their defense and upset the Whalers’ timing as being the key to the win.
The Bees ability to change tempo and disguise defenses was almost enough to knock off the Settlers in the Hive Tuesday, but missed buckets and dropped passes underneath let the visitors leave with their win-streak in tact.
Bridgehampton’s Ainsley Wyche led all scorers with 32 points. Losing rebounder Jamal Hires to a fifth foul with four minutes remaining made the upset that much harder, the Settlers scoring 13 to the Bees’ 9 after Hires fouled out.
The Indians Get Away
The Whalers were ready to get back to winning Tuesday, holding a one-point 20-19 lead over the visiting Indians at halftime. But the second half didn’t stick to that script, Shelter Island taking a 37-32 lead after the third quarter and walking off up 51-42 at the buzzer.
Poor shooting and turnovers put Pierson at a disadvantage again, the Whalers’ hustle and hard work undone by an inability to put the ball in the hole. Gilbride led the Whalers with 18, Loesch adding 14, Sam Miller six.
Pierson travels to Southold this Friday and hosts Ross next Friday at 6:15 p.m.