By Gavin Menu
Julia Schiavoni scored eight points and Sydnee McKie-Senior added seven as the Pierson-Bridgehampton girls basketball team beat Shelter Island, 32-18, on Tuesday to clinch a spot in the upcoming Suffolk County Class C playoffs.
The win improved the Lady Whalers’ League VIII record to 6-4, guaranteeing them at least the .500 record required for the postseason.
After the game, head coach Kevin Barron said his team has continued to struggle offensively and with shooting the ball, which cost the team a win over rival Port Jefferson on Friday, January 25. Pierson shot just 3-for-18 from the free-throw line and lost a heartbreaker, 39-36, on its home floor.
Kasey Gilbride, who is normally the team’s top defensive stopper, led the Lady Whalers in scoring against Port Jeff with nine points while Emily Hinz and Abby Ruiz each chipped in with eight. The Lady Whalers were outscored from the foul line 11-3, despite their 18 attempts.
Port Jefferson and Stony Brook, the Class C schools Pierson will have to get past in order to win a county title, will battle into the final week of the season for a regular-season league championship, along with Southold-Greenport, which will compete as a Class B school in the playoffs.
The Lady Whalers, meanwhile, can only hope to find ways to score more easily and develop an offense that will complement their league-leading defense. Pierson proved once again on Tuesday that its defensive pressure is good enough to win games, but the question remains how much offense the Lady Whalers will need to beat teams like Stony Brook and Port Jeff in the playoffs.
“All of our losses, aside from the first game against Port Jefferson, have been by less than four points,” Barron pointed out on Tuesday. “It’s been an agonizing couple of weeks, but we’re in the playoffs now and we know we can compete.”
Barron said the team has been working hard on shooting at practice and that the team’s offensive system is delivering good scoring chances. The shots, he said, simply are not falling.
“I told the girls that we need to get hot at the right time,” said Barron, who will enter the playoffs in his first year at the helm of the program. “They keep shooting, that’s for sure, but we’re having trouble finishing.”
The win over Shelter Island on Tuesday partially erased the sour taste left from Friday’s loss to Port Jefferson and now the team will look to build on that starting with its last home game of the season tonight, January 31, against Southold-Greenport, at 6:15 p.m. in which the team’s seniors will be honored.
The last game of the regular season for the Lady Whalers is scheduled for Friday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Stony Brook.