By Gavin Menu
There will be few surprises when the Suffolk County Class C playoffs begin this week for the Pierson boys and girls basketball teams, which will face all-too familiar foes with championship stakes on the line.
The girls enter the postseason as the top-seed in Class C after winning League VIII with a regular-season record of 9-1. The team’s lone set-back came nearly two months ago on December 20 against the Southold-Greenport Lady Settlers, who the Lady Whalers will meet again in the Suffolk final on Tuesday, February 18 at Northport High School at 2 p.m.
The boys team, which closed out the regular season with a 13-3 league record and 13-5 overall, will face Stony Brook, the defending League VIII and Suffolk Class C champion, on Saturday at Longwood High School at 2:30 p.m. The Whalers faced Stony Brook twice this season, splitting the results between an exhilarating home win in December and, more recently, a lopsided 22-point loss on January 24.
“We need to play our best game of basketball, which means we have to do all the little things we have control over,” Pierson head coach Dan White said on Monday. “We can’t miss any of our box-out assignments, we have to get them into a half court game and we have to take care of the basketball.”
“If we do all the little things,” he added, “we’ll be competitive.”
And if junior forward Robbie Evjen has even have half the game he closed out the regular season with against the Ross School on Friday, then the Whalers will have an automatic leg up. Evjen played the game of his life during a 60-52 win over Ross, scoring a career-high 30 points to go with 18 rebounds, and was a perfect 15-for-15 from the foul line
“He had phenomenal moves,” White said. “The best part about that game is we just kept going to him, and he must have shot 80 percent from the floor. It’s a sign of what he will be able to do next year.”
For now, Evjen will focus his efforts on the here and now and stopping Stony Brook’s 6-foot-7-inch forward Andrew Daniel, who helped lead the Bears to a dominant win over Pierson in last year’s county final.
Leading the way for Pierson, of course, will be point guard Ian Barrett and senior Forrest Loesch, the team’s best player, who two years ago hit a miraculous shot at the buzzer to beat Stony Brook in the county final.
Lady Whalers On a Roll
The Lady Whalers closed out their regular season on February 4 with an impressive 52-46 non-league win over Wyandanch, which is a Class B school. Pierson (12-6 overall) features a balanced attack this season, which was on full display last Tuesday.
“The best part about the game was that seven different girls scored,” head coach Kevin Barron said.
Senior Bridget Canavan led the way with 15 points and eight rebounds. Erica Selyukova added 10 points and 12 rebounds, Sol Valera had eight points and Kasey Gilbride put forth her usual all-around performance, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals.
Barron said Southold has the ability to score a lot of points, so a strong defense will be key if the program hopes to bring home its first Suffolk championship since 1992.
“Winning the rebound battle underneath will be another key to victory,” Barron said. “We cannot allow any second shot attempts.”
Barron has not looked past Tuesday’s game to a potential Long Island Championship game or run through the state tournament.
“Everyone is healthy and ready to go,” Barron said. “Right now our focus is Southold and Southold only. We are not going to look past them because they are a tough team.”