By Benito VilaÂ
When Pierson varsity basketball coach Fred Marienfeld selected his captain, junior Joe Dowling, he sent a clear message to his team: the younger guys have to step up.
Last season the Whalers were 9-5 in league play and 13-6 overall. They gave up Keith Robinson, Zach North, Steve McCarron, Matt Paul and Zach O’Connell to graduation when the clock ran out in a first-round playoff loss to eventual Suffolk County Class C champion Port Jefferson.
“The goal this year”, explained Coach Marienfeld after practice on Sunday, “is what it’s always been; to get to the playoffs. With six sophomores on a ten-man roster, we have our work cut out for us. They’re all going to have to grow up quick.”
The team has only two seniors, guards Ryan Miller and Casey Crowley. Forward Luke Kirrane joins Dowling in representing the juniors. The sophomores moving up are forwards Seamus Doyle, Skyler Loesch and Jake Weingartner and guards Tyler Gilbride, Brooke Hartnett and Dylan Hmielenski.
Â “We have some talent to work with. But we’re going to be the ultimate ‘young guns’,” cautioned Coach Marienfeld. “There won’t be any easy games for us and it’s a good thing we know that going in.”
Coach Marienfeld sees defending champion Greenport as “by far” the best in the league, with Stony Brook and Mercy “making up the second tier.” Bridgehampton, Shelter Island, Smithtown Christian and Ross round out the rest of the schedule.
Scrimmages and Games
Pre-season play tips off on Saturday, the Whalers heading to Long Lane in East Hampton to scrimmage the Bonackers at 10 a.m. On Monday, the boys have Southampton coming in to scrimmage at 5 p.m., which is their only home match-up until December 23 when Shelter Island visits.
Between next week and that pre-holiday homecoming, the team will see plenty of local action, traveling to Mattituck, December 12 for a non-league contest, and opening league play at Bridgehampton, December 16. The Whalers are also scheduled to return to Rochester the weekend of December 19 to 21 to defend a title earned last year in a tournament hosted by the Charles J. Finney School.
Paul Plays On
Whaler basketball alumnus and Pierson 2005 graduate Max Paul is a senior at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and the starting center on the Mariners’ basketball squad. Paul is averaging 12.5 points and 6 rebounds per game in the early going, his team off to an 0-2 start out of conference. The Mariners met SUNY Maritime there last night and travel to Wesleyan on Sunday.