By Benito Vila
With the Whaler basketball varsity taking the floor without any returning starters and six sophomores on the roster, and the JV mainly made up of freshmen, the Pierson boys’ basketball coaches have their work cut out for them this season.
Saturday saw both teams scrimmage their East Hampton counterparts, the older, more experienced Bonackers breaking down the Whaler teams in transition and taking advantage of turnovers. Varsity coach Fred Marienfeld called the contest “trial-by-fire” and “on-the-job training”, seeing his squad go up against one of last season’s Class A regional tournament qualifiers.
Holding a book of 101 in-bound plays on Tuesday, Coach Marienfeld explained, “I wasn’t so much concerned about the score in each period [Saturday] as I was seeing what we have to work on. With our youth and lack of experience, we’re going to see a lot of presses and traps. I’ve told my guys to expect pressure, that teams will be using different schemes to try and confuse us. So we’re going to be spending more of our time on our offensive sets and learning to recognize defensive alignments and how to break them down.”
After Monday’s scrimmage with Southampton, Coach Marienfeld described team captain Joe Dowling as “a rebounding machine; he’s a beast, if it’s near him he’s getting it.” He also noted that the team kept its composure “in a very physical game,” not reacting emotionally to contact or allowing the Mariners’ up-tempo pressure to take them out of their roles.
This afternoon the varsity heads to Southold for the opening game of a four-team tournament that also includes Rocky Point and Mt. Sinai. The outcomes today set the match-ups for Tuesday, winners and losers playing each other then. Next Friday, the boys make their way to Mattituck for the final pre-season prep before league play opens in Bridgehampton against the Killer Bees on December 16.
Taking stock of his Whalers Tuesday, Coach Marienfeld said, “We’re starting fresh and clean and I have a good crew. They work hard and they work well together. We’re very young this year and we’ll be that way again next year. What’s going to be key for us this year is being able to respond to a variety of defenses and making smart, controlled, adjustments. I’m going to be teaching a lot of basic things, but you expect that anytime you have a youth movement.”
With the team coming to his house for dinner that night, Coach Marienfeld added that he’s “hoping to have two team dinners again this year; one now and another before the playoffs”, something he’s done in each of his three years at the helm of the boys’ basketball program.
JV settles in
In some ways, JV boys’ basketball has already had three coaches this season. Incumbent coach Jim Kinnier, who led off-season conditioning and open gym sessions, took hold of an opportunity to lead winter track at Ross and his initial replacement resigned for personal reasons after two days of practice.
Coming in last week to guide the team is first-year Pierson science teacher Kevin Barron, who played high school basketball in Islip and whose father is a long-time school basketball referee. Coach Barron likes what he has on the JV, pointing out,Â “We have good size and some fast guys down low.”
Seeing his team scrimmage East Hampton Saturday, Coach Barron noted a need “to work on ball handling and limiting turnovers.” The team is on the road with the varsity this coming week and also has a non-league game Monday at home against Southampton at 4:30 p.m.
The JV team roster has just two sophomores, Frank Romeo and Lukas Wheeler, and 10 freshmen. Playing hoops at the high school level for the first time are Harley Decker, Paul Dorego, Emet Evgen, Sean Hartnett, Michael Heller, Hunter Leyser, Sam Miller, Nolan O’Brien, Jeremy Pepper and Sean Romeo.