By Andrew Rudansky
The Pierson Whalers entered the Bee Hive last Friday, December 16 and defeated the Bridgehampton Killer Bees, 64-44 in the first of their two matches this season. The win, Pierson’s first of the 2011-2012 season, was a major break for the squad.
In front of a standing room only crowd, the Whalers played their best basketball of the young season, executing a suffocating man-to-man defense and putting up points with effective post play.
“It was a big win for us,” said Pierson Head Coach Dan White. “[Bridgehampton] is a solid team…they are definitely going places in the league.”
For the Bridgehampton team, the game marked their third straight loss. As of today the still winless team has lost their first five games of the season, however four of those have come from non-league opponents.
The Whalers outscored the Bees 20-11 in the first quarter, thanks to efficient three-point shooting from guards Ian Barrett, Joe Butts and Jackson Marienfeld. Barrett and Marienfeld led their team in three-point shots with two each.
From there the match turned into a game of catch up for Bridgehampton, one that they would never win. At the center of their issues was the lackluster play from starters Caanan Campbell and Jason Hopson, unquestionably the stars of the Bridgehampton squad. The team’s two-man offensive engine never seemed to get off the ground.
“Our goal was to force Campbell and Hopson to put the ball on the floor,” said White. Preventing the wide open shots with a tight defense, and instead forcing them to dribble or distribute the ball.
Both Bridgehampton starters were kept out of the interior by the Whalers while their three-point shooting was largely ineffective.
Campbell had a game high 18 points, while Hopson was limited to nine. These numbers are far below what these players have been able to accomplish in past games.
The Bees did receive another strong performance from starting guard Tylik Furkman; the eighth grader tallied 10 points in the game.
Anchoring the Whalers’ defense was starting forward Sam Miller, who provided a big body between the Bees and the net.
Whaler’s starting forward Forrest Loesch had a huge game at the post, leading his team in scoring with15 points. Barrett finished the game with 13 points, while Patrick Sloane tallied 11 for the Whalers, including a dagger three-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the most telling statistic for the Whalers was how each of the eight rotation players that received minutes in the game put points on the board, creating a headache for Bridgehampton’s defense.
“It was a real team effort,” said White, who specifically mentioned the effort put forward by his starting five, Barrett, Butts, Loesch, Miller and Sloane. “Any one of them can get 15 [points] on any given night for us.”
At the half, Pierson’s lead had increased to 33-19, and the game was quickly slipping away from Bridgehampton Head Coach Carl Johnson and the Bees.
The game turned into a real scrapper in the second half, with numerous jump balls and scrambling on the floor for loose balls stopping the clock. Pierson’s overly aggressive play proved to be unwise as it put the Killer Bees in the bonus early in the third quarter. Both Sloane and bench swingman Jake Bennett ended up fouling out of the game.
With 5:30 left to play in regulation, Bridgehampton switched to an up-tempo, full court press to try and claw back from the double-digit deficit. While the bees were able to find some success with the pick and roll from Campbell and freshman Davion Cooper off the bench, it was all too little, too late.
“We never took the foot off of the gas pedal,” said White about his team’s effort.
The win has Pierson tied for first in League VIII with Southold, Ross and Stony Brook.
The Whalers last game before the winter break is a Friday night away game against the non-league Mattituck Tuckers on December 23, 6:15 p.m.
Bridgehampton doesn’t have another game until Wednesday, January 4 at 6 p.m. when they take on Smithtown Christian at home in their second league game of the season.