By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
Forrest Loesch scored 30 points, including eight three-pointers, to lead the Pierson boys basketball team to a 70-61 win over visiting Bridgehampton on Saturday afternoon.
As a result of the win, Pierson improved its league-leading record to 8-1 with a showdown at Stony Brook, which is also 8-1, set for tomorrow, January 24.
A game against Smithtown Christian that was set for Tuesday was postponed due to weather.
The Killer Bees, who had been surging of late, fell to 4-5 in the middle of the League VIII standings.
Saturday’s game was tight, hard-fought and tied at 51 apiece early in the fourth quarter. But Loesch and Duncan Bennett hit back-to-back threes to put Pierson ahead, 64-55, and the Whalers never looked back, celebrating another big victory with a lively crowd of their fellow students.
“I love playing Bridgehampton, I mean look at our kids, they had a sea of red today,” Pierson head coach Dan White said, referring to the school’s student section. “Bridgehampton has a good basketball program, they have a lot of history and a lot of success.
“We don’t have as much success, but we’re trying to get there,” he continued, “and every game we play them it’s a dogfight.”
Josh Lamison and Jerome Walker led the way for Bridgehampton, scoring 17 points apiece. Tylik Furman, who had to sit for a short stretch in the second half with a minor ankle injury, returned to score 12 points.
Joining Loesch in double figures for Pierson were Ian Barrett, who had 12 points, and Robbie Evjen, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
But it was Loesch who once again set the tone for the Whalers, drilling a three on the game’s opening possession to set the stage for his matinee shooting clinic.
“He’s always been a decent shooter, but he put in a lot of time this offseason getting better,” White said about his leading scorer. “They were playing zone and he was wide open.”
The Killer Bees have won eight state championships in the past on the backs of a swarming man-to-man defense, but head coach Carl Johnson often has to rely on his starting five to go the distance, so zone defenses have become much more common. The zone led to open shots, in the end on Saturday, and Pierson took advantage by drilling 14 three-pointers.
“The guys were missing some of their defensive assignments,” Johnson said about Saturday’s game, which the Bees let slip away during the final eight minutes. “And in the second half, we ran no offense. I tell the guys all the time, it’s easy to defend someone when they’re standing still.
“We’re a young team,” he added, “but we can’t afford that if we want to make the playoffs.”
The Killer Bees will look to get back in the winning column tomorrow, January 24, at home against Smithtown Christian at 6 p.m. The Bees will play Stony Brook for the second time in eight days when they travel to play the Bears on Tuesday, January 28 at 5:30 p.m.