By Benito Vila
The early results are in for the 2009-2010 Pierson basketball Whalers. Despite a 0-3 start against some of Suffolk County’s top competition, the season still holds a good deal of promise.
The boys’ advantage in the early going is their conditioning and their effort, the Whalers, as whole, being tall, athletic and persistent, playing with never-say-quit intensity. Working against them though is their collective youth and inexperience, only one healthy senior on a 12-man squad consisting of six juniors and two sophomores.
The three games this past week saw the boys go up against Class A Islip, Class AA Patchogue-Medford and Class A East Hampton. On paper, the results do not look good, the Class C Whalers being outscored by 90 points.
But playing those larger schools should help the boys get a sense of where their individual and collective games need to go and what they need to do to develop their skills should they want to play beyond the local level. Only time will tell if the experience inspires more commitment or whether the knowledge of knowing how much work they need to do keeps them from doing it.
Either way, the team makes its league debut on Tuesday, going over to Shelter Island for a 5:45 p.m. tip-off. The Indians had a winless pre-season as well, going 0-2 after meeting Mattituck there and East Rockaway at home.
The Whalers will make their home debut next Friday at 6:15 p.m., hosting a Southold squad that dispatched Mattituck in its only game this week. The Settlers host a two-game tournament this weekend, Mattituck and Mount Sinai making their way there.
In heading over to play East Hampton Monday, the Whalers were meeting a program coming off back-to-back appearances in the state’s Class A finals. While Monday’s game was close in the early going, the re-building Bonackers held a 16-8 advantage at the first buzzer and cruised to a 75-43 win.
The bright spots for the Pierson boys were their zone defense and their passing. But turnovers and missed shots were their undoing, especially in a 33-6 third quarter that saw East Hampton nail down the game.
Skyler Loesch tallied 13 points Monday to lead the Whalers’ scoring. Luke Kirrane added nine, with Brook Hartnett and Seamus Doyle each tossing in six. Tyler Gilbride netted five and Jake Weingartner four.
In starting their pre-season in Islip last Wednesday, the Whalers were up against what Coach Johns called, “a big, physical team that executed on both ends of the floor.” The Buccaneers sailed out to a 38-22 lead at the half and set out on a 24-9 run in the third quarter to pull off an 80-41 win.
Leading the Whaler scoring were Doyle with ten points and Gilbride with nine points. Kirrane and Sean Hartnett each had six. Looking to build on the positives, Coach Johns noted, “Our half-court defense did a nice job of protecting the paint and I liked the way certain players were squaring up, getting to the bucket, and getting fouled.”
“However, we need to do a much better job closing out and rebounding and we must be more focused when we get to the line, and complete those plays.”
Friday found Pierson back in Islip for a match-up with Patchogue-Medford. After staying even in the first quarter, the Whalers fell behind in the second and the Raiders used their size to run up a 75-50 win. After the game, Coach Johns felt his team did “a better job on the boards and were able to get out in transition a bit more than against Islip,” but cautioned, “We still have work to do on limiting turnovers and getting into the correct positions on defense.”
Atop the Whaler scoring sheet Friday were Kirrane, with 17, Loesch, with 14, and Gilbride, with 11.
Ravens and Bees
The Ross School also sought out a higher class of competition in matching up with Mercy and West Islip this week. Currently sporting a 0-2 mark, the Ravens close out their pre-season tomorrow in taking on East Rockaway at home; tip-off is at 6:30 p.m.
Ross opens its league schedule at Smithtown Christian Tuesday and hosts Shelter Island next Friday at 6:15 p.m. Brendan Pettaway and Liam Chaskey have emerged as the Ravens’ leading scorers thus far.
Meanwhile, the Bridgehampton Killer Bees have kept keeping close to the Hive, holding off any competition until tomorrow’s scrimmage at Mercy. The Bridgehampton boys have busy schedule after that, opening league play at Southold Tuesday, playing a two-game tournament in Southampton next weekend and coming back to host Class D rival Greenport on December 22.
The Pierson JV Whalers are also off to a 0-3 start, but coach Jonathan Tortorella likes what he’s seeing. After a 51-30 loss to Islip last Wednesday, Coach Tortorella said, “We could have played much better. There is a lot of work to be done and the boys know that, but we came right back with a tremendous practice on Thursday.”
“The biggest problem [Wednesday] was our rebounding, Islip dominated the boards all game. On the positive side, our half-court defense is starting to really be one of our strong points. And we attacked the basket very well [on offense] and got to the free throw line, which is a very good sign.”
The younger Whalers play at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Shelter Island, before the varsity game, and do the same thing at home next Friday, taking the court against Southold at 4:30 p.m.