By Benito Vila
There may be some that would prefer whatever happens at Pierson stays at Pierson, but that’s not the way the world works. Amid all the press coverage and online opining, the Whaler varsity is still playing, still short of a berth in the county Class C tournament.
A 49-46 win over Ross yesterday put Pierson closer to that goal, two clutch Casey Crowley free throws with 3.8 seconds left providing the final margin and earning interim Whaler varsity coach Christian Johns his first league victory. A pair of put-back baskets by Jake Weingartner in the closing minutes allowed the Whalers to hold off a Ravens run led by Brandon Pettaway, Jasper Creegan and Liam Chaskey.
In describing the difference in the game, Coach Johns said, “It was all team. We kept constant pressure on them, made them work, and even though we were a bit sloppy on offense, we kept our cool at the end.” Crowley led all scorers with 21 points while Whaler captain Joe Dowling pulled down 18 rebounds and put in 13 points.
The win gets Pierson to 6-5 in league play with three games left to go. A tournament seeding requires a .500 record and that will not come easy with games against Greenport, Stony Brook and Smithtown Christian coming this week.
The Whalers host the undefeated Porters here tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. and travel to the second-place Bears Monday at 4:30 p.m. If those games go the other way, the pressure will be on against the Crusaders in the season-finale next Wednesday at Pierson at 6:15 p.m.
Like Nothing Ever Happened
Led by JV coach Kevin Barron, the team took the floor at home Friday and worked their way to a 26-21 halftime lead over Class C rival Mercy. The Monarchs’ defensive press kept the Whaler attack from re-establishing its rhythm in the second half, allowing the visitors to make off with a 59-43 win.
Coach Barron said afterwards, “I asked the guys to play their hearts out and they did; they came out like nothing ever happened. When Mercy came at us with a press in the second half, we didn’t make the type of passes we needed to get through it. That and Mercy’s foul shooting [16 of 19] in the fourth were the difference.”
Tyler Gilbride led the Whalers Friday with 13 points. Crowley had 12, Dowling 10, Ryan Miller four and Skyler Loesch and Dylan Hmielnski two each.
Knowing that Mercy broke the game open with 11 points in the last two minutes, and the new intensity of Coach Johns, inspired a strong defensive effort on Saturday on Shelter Island. The Whalers led 15-2 after the first quarter, 29-9 at the half, and stayed ahead the rest of the way to post a 60-34 non-league win.
Coach Johns said, “Our defense helped us establish a solid start. We were aggressive on the ball and that translated into an early lead. We did a decent job of getting out in transition and later on we were able to manage the game with longer possessions.”
Crowley led the scoring with 19. Dowling again added 10 while Miller and Seamus Doyle each netted nine.