By Benito Vila
The high school winter sports season tipped off yesterday the Lady Whaler and Whaler basketball teams splitting time in the gym. Also available for Pierson student-athletes this time of year are cheerleading, winter track for girls and boys, boys’ bowling, boys’ wrestling and boys’ swimming.
Cheerleading is Pierson’s only high school offering besides basketball; the other sports are “shared”, East Hampton serving as the host school.
Making their way to the season’s first workout yesterday were 22 Lady Whalers, the varsity girls looking to return the county playoffs for the fourth straight year. Last winter’s squad came in second in the league at 5-3, and matched up with undefeated league-leader Stony Brook for the county title but came home emptied handed.
This year the Lady Whalers will be led by juniors Sam James and Sarah Barrett, who come in as the only returning varsity players. Earlier this week, Coach Dennis Case acknowledged his young players “are our future and our present. This will certainly be a rebuilding year or two but I feel we are going in the right direction.”
Coach Case expects Stony Brook to once again be the team to beat with the rest of the league [Shelter Island, Southold, Ross, Mercy and Port Jefferson] being evenly matched.
The girls open non-league play after Thanksgiving, traveling to East Hampton on November 30 and hosting Southampton December 4. The Lady Whalers’ first league game is set for December 15, Shelter Island coming into the Pierson High School gym for a 5:45 p.m. start.
The boys, led by coach Christian Johns, have seven returning players from a resilient squad that rallied to finish 7-7 and become eligible for the playoffs. The post-season was short though, Pierson out-scored by Port Jefferson in the county title game.
The Whalers get underway against Center Moriches November 30. A tournament game at Islip, December 2, and a match-up at East Hampton, December 8, precede the league opener on Shelter Island December 15.