Tag Archive | "Pierson"

Lady Whalers Top Lady Royals on Way to Finals

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By Andrew Rudansky


With a trip to the Suffolk County Class C championship game on the line, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers shined, beating the visiting Port Jefferson Lady Royals (6-6), 37-30, in the first round of the girls’ varsity basketball playoffs.

The game took place on Friday, February 17 at 5 p.m., part of a string of Section XI playoff games held at the Pierson High School gym. The game also marked the Lady Whalers’ seventh straight appearance in the Class C post season.

The Lady Whalers featured a more physical offense than their opponent, built off of post play on the inside by sophomore forward Bridget Canavan and junior guard Rachel Saidman.

This season the Pierson/Bridgehampton team averaged 31.7 points per game (ppg) in the regular season while allowing 36.4 points per game. The Lady Whalers did fair better in league VIII play, averaging 35.2 ppg, while allowing only 30 ppg.

In Friday’s win the team used this aggressive style of play to charge the lane, scoring easy layups and getting to the penalty line for free shots.

The first half started as a back-and-forth defensive slugfest, neither team allowing the other to lead by more than a few points. Pierson/Bridgehampton struggled to find their shot in the half, missing wide open jumpers and failing to convert on offensive rebounds. Luckily for the home team, their competitors were fairing just as poorly.

The Pierson Lady Whalers went to the locker room at the half with a 20-13 lead after they held the Lady Royals to just 2 points in the second quarter.

Coming out of the locker room, Port Jefferson scored 4 unanswered points and were looking like they were just getting streaky. This came to a grinding halt when the Lady Whalers answered with a dominant 10 point run of their own. The run was led by senior guard Sariah Cafiero, who finished with a team leading 8 points, 5 rebounds, 6 steals and 1 assist.

From there the Lady Whalers led by 10 or more for most of the second half, showing that their late season struggles were a thing of the past.

Saidman finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. Junior guard Emily Hinz had a strong game as well with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. Canavan and forward Julia Schiavoni both led the team with 8 rebounds each in the game.

The Pierson/Bridgehampton squad made several defensive mistakes in the game, handing out a flurry of poor fouls and putting the Port Jefferson team in the bonus early in the fourth quarter. However, even at the line the Lady Royals failed to produce, going 5-14 in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Whalers finished the regular season in third place with a record of 7-5 in League VIII, stumbling into the playoffs after they lost their last two league games.

This playoff win on Friday helped make up for the Lady Whalers’ disappointing performance in the team’s Senior Game, the last regular season home game, against the Stony Brook Bears on Monday, Feb. 13.

The team will face off against the undefeated first seed playoff team, the Southold Lady Settlers, on a neutral site at St. Josephs College in Patchogue. The game, played for the Suffolk County Class C title, will be held on Monday, February 20 at 8 p.m.

Pierson Student Moves On to Intel Semi-Finals

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Sam Miller horizontal adjusted

By Claire Walla


It’s hard to think of anything less pleasant-sounding than sooty mold.

And yet, for Pierson High School student Sam Miller, this dry, charcoal-colored bacteria has proven to have numerous positive qualities. For one, it’s allowed Miller to carry on what’s been an annual Pierson High School tradition for seven years running: this month, Miller was named one of 300 Intel Science Talent Search (STS) semi-finalists from across the country.

Miller earned this distinction for his work in identifying anti-bacterial properties in sooty mold, or scorias spongiosa to the scientific community, a fungus that’s found growing on beech trees.

Miller began working on this project in his junior year, as part of Dr. Robert Schumacher’s scientific research class. Typically, research students will work on projects that are, in a sense, a continuation of the work done by previous students. For example, former Pierson student Ailish Bateman had already proven back in 2005 that sooty mold had anti-fungal properties. So Miller tested it for its antibacterial qualities.

“The first step is we soaked it in methanol,” Miller explained. “That basically extracts the organic compounds out of the mold itself. Then, we’ll filter that and run it through chromatography tests.”

That process essentially breaks the compounds further down into smaller materials called fractions.

“I broke it down into 70 different fractions,” Miller said. “Basically, when we got to the pure form, we sent it off to the University of Mississippi [UM] and they ran a series of NMR [Nuclear Magnetic Resonance] tests on it. Then, by analyzing a series of data, we were able to figure out the molecular structure.”

Thanks to teachers Robert Schumacher and his brother Richard Schumacher, who co-teach Pierson’s class on scientific research, Pierson has been able to develop a working relationship with UM. In exchange for the use of UM’s lab equipment, Dr. Rob Schu (as he’s more commonly known) said Pierson is expected to share its findings with the school, which will conduct further testing on the compound.

And now that Pierson students have identified two very important chemical compounds in the bacteria — one anti-fungal, the other anti-bacterial — Dr. Schumacher said the school is ready to hand its sooty mold findings over to UM so that the university can patent the information and begin further testing.

According to Miller, “It could go through a series of drug testing, which would take an enormous amount of time.” But, should the compound successfully work to combat certain diseases, “It could become an antibiotic medicine.”

Dr. Schumacher explained that the anti-fungal compounds found in sooty mold are some of the most powerful antibiotics to work against an infection called Candida, otherwise known as thrush. He added that this could be particularly important for AIDS patients and people undergoing chemo therapy — who often develop thrush during the course of treatment — because this compound “seems to have a tremendous ability to stave off that type of infection.”

According to Dr. Schumacher, the next step on the pharmaceutical trail would be animal testing, which he said could begin sometime within the next year.

Miller’s work is so important, he added, because researchers need that structure in order to conduct thorough tests on the compound. With the molecular structure all mapped out, Dr. Schumacher said, “Now we know the compound, its structure, its activity… Now someone can take that information — even if it’s already a known compound — and then work to manipulate parts of that molecule to make it more active or more safe.”

He continued to say that Miller’s findings are particularly significant. Miller in fact tested the anti-bacterial compound he discovered against another antibiotic (he believes it was streptomycin) “and it was even more active than that,” Dr. Schumacher said. “Even the compound he isolated, [researchers] have not reported any activity on it. So, Sam’s definitely going to have a scientific journal with his name on it!”

Miller confessed, however, that this is probably not the start of a budding chemical or pharmaceutical career. With early admissions to Cornell University already under his belt, Miller said he planned to study computer science.

“This is probably a one-time thing,” he said of the project. “It was a good experience, and if I had to switch majors, yeah, maybe I would do this. You never know.”

School Makes Community-wide Coalition to Curb Substance Abuse

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By Claire Walla

Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event to incite change. For the William Floyd School District in 2009, it took the loss of one of its star athletes — who died of a heroine overdose — for the school to finally crack-down on substance abuse.

Here in Sag Harbor, however, administrators and school board members are taking measures to make sure it never comes to that.

At the end of this month, a collection of administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and school board members will come together to begin planning a coalition made up of school personnel and community members aimed at preventing substance abuse in the district.

“The goal is to bring together the entire community, all the stakeholders,” said school board president Mary Anne Miller. The philosophy behind this approach is that alcohol and drug abuse are not problems that are in any way limited to the school’s purview, even if situations unfold on school grounds — this is a community issue.

Miller said the purpose of this month’s meeting is to decide who in the community the coalition should reach out to. Ideally, Miller added, the coalition will be comprised of a wide swathe of people, from law enforcement officials, to medical personnel, clergy members and even business owners.

“It’s a commitment [for everyone involved],” Miller admitted. “But these are the people who are going to go and create this culture change, and push it beyond the school doors.”

The seeds of this coalition were planted last spring when the school district banded together with the state-run Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to put together a comprehensive survey for all students, grades 7 through 12.

While not nearly as drastic a situation as they were up against at William Floyd, Miller said the results of that survey — which the district finally received in December — showed that alcohol and marijuana use are prevalent among teens in the district. But rather than stop at those results, Miller said one of the greatest benefits of the OASAS program is that it gives the school district access to drug-prevention professionals and counselors across Long Island and the state.

Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said school officials already held a meeting with Kym Laube of Human Growth and Understanding Seminars (HUGS) earlier this year to begin fleshing out plans for the coalition. Nichols said Laube has most recently worked with the Westhampton school community to organize a similar community endeavor.

The Westhampton school district has already taken efforts to better bolster the relationship between its students and the community at large. For example, Nichols explained, the district set-up an “alcohol-free zone” at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But, as Miller explained, coalitions in different communities will all operate a little differently.

“Some towns have asked all restaurants and bars to post signs and make the commitment not to sell alcohol to minors,” she explained.

Once Sag Harbor’s stakeholders are involved, she added, “the coalition will sort of take on a life of its own.”

The bottom line, as Miller sees it, is that the best way to combat substance abuse is to take a look at the bigger picture.

“It’s not just about risky behavior, it’s about a risky environment,” she said. “You have to look at what you’re doing in the school [to foster] the home/school connection. Do students feel connected to the school? Do parents feel connected to the school?”

And the big question: “Are we providing enough low-risk environments to prevent high-risk behaviors?”

Fuel Costs Increase Budget for Buildings and Grounds

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By Claire Walla

Sag Harbor School District Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Montgomery “Monty” Granger didn’t just talk numbers when he presented his budget last Monday, December 12. He showed pictures.

As part of his slideshow presentation, Granger took Sag Harbor School Board members inside the Wyandanch School District where, through the school’s virtual building management system, he was able to display a map of the school grounds, which showed various temperatures corresponding to each room within the school building — in real time.

Granger said he hopes to bring a similar system to the Sag Harbor School District.

This was the focal point of his presentation on the 2012-2013 budget for buildings and maintenance, which as of now is predicted to see a $99,586 jump over this year’s budget. While buildings and grounds only accounts for about six percent of the school’s overall operating budget, Granger said often times the cost of energy is the most expensive part of this portion of the budget.

To further illustrate his point, Granger told the board that the district’s total energy costs for the 2010-2011 school year totaled $370,467. And based on estimates put out by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), Granger said this is bound to go up by 2012-2013.

Fuel oil alone is projected to see a 28-percent jump, while natural gas costs are estimated to rise 13 percent and electricity costs are expected to be up by five percent.

According to Granger, the cost of implementing a building management system with Direct Digital Controls (DDC) would be about $500,000; however, he said the new virtual system could bring savings on energy costs anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.

This figure is imprecise, Granger admitted, because he’s unsure of how much energy the school is currently wasting.

“We currently have limited or no control over the heating of the buildings, and we have no benchmark for expenditures,” Granger wrote in one of his slides.

The program, Granger argued, would make regulating temperatures much easier and more efficient because he or one of the schools’ head custodians could monitor temperatures for the entire building remotely. Plus, Granger added, the program makes it possible to pre-plan heat regulation, essentially scheduling low temperatures during holidays when no one is using the building, even making temperatures low in certain segments of the building that may not be used as frequently as others.

Other cost increases for next year are tied to several expenditures Granger has built into the next school year: purchasing a lift, equipment replacement, new high school lockers, new boiler burners, purchasing a sod cutter, replacing doors and installing new wall padding in the Sag Harbor Elementary School gym.

“I have a significant increase in next year’s budget,” Granger explained. “But, I have some significant needs.”

As far as athletics are concerned, Granger — who also acts as the school district’s Athletic Director — said next year’s proposed budget will be kept relatively flat, only going up by about $22,000.

“We are proposing the same number of teams as we currently have,” explained school superintendent Dr. John Gratto.

According to Granger’s presentation, the school district currently fields 50 teams, with most student athletes participating in fall sports — 245 students, versus 170 in the winter and 146 in the spring. And Granger noted that the number of female athletes is greater than the number of males in both the fall (by 25) and the winter (by 30), while the boys outnumber the girls 86 to 60 in the spring.

Though nothing is set to change for next year, Dr. Gratto added that it’s still early and the impending threat of the two-percent tax cap could rock the boat.

“This is certainly going to be a tight budget year,” he added.

Proposal to Add Counselor

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By Claire Walla


With the two-percent tax levy cap looming on the horizon, school districts across he state will be struggling to find ways of cutting costs, without sacrificing services. At a Sag Harbor School Board meeting last Monday, August 14, Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols offered a plan he said would not only be cost-effective, it would increase the services the district provides.

Last year, the high school spent about $74,000 for transitional services for about 14 special needs students. But, according to District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto, he and Nichols have begun talking about using that money instead to fund a new position at the school.

“From my perspective, spending $74,000 for transitional services for 14 or 15 students a year is pretty expensive,” Nichols commented at the meeting. Transitional services are mandated by the state for some special needs students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Once a student with such an IEP turns 15, the school is required to bring someone in to help that student get through the course work he or she needs to graduate, in addition to helping that student explore various options available to him or her post-graduation.

“Our thought is that we could not only do that, but we could bring [in a counselor with] other skills that would help the growing needs that we have,” Nichols explained.

The way he and Dr. Gratto have discussed it, that $74,000 can be channeled into a full-time position, bringing in a counselor who will be on the campus five days a week, instead of a part-time person who might only be at the school for two. The idea is in its preliminary stage, but Nichols said at this point he sees this as a $50-55,000 salary, which, plus benefits, would roughly equate to $74,000.

The person in this new position would serve two main needs of the school: helping with transitional services, and doing more outreach to parents and students who are part of the school’s English as a Second Language (ESL) community. This aspect is not required by the state. But Nichols said it’s crucial for the district — which currently has about 60 ESL students, 25 of them in the high school — to address the growing needs of the ESL community.

“Obviously the person we hire would have to be bilingual,” Nichols said. He also urged the school to hold-off on hiring someone until the right candidate — with a background in counseling and/or social work, plus Spanish language skills — is found.

The third aspect of this new position, Nichols continued, would involve hands-on experience for Pierson students who could serve as mentors for ESL or special needs students. To this, he added, “I think it would be preferable to hire this person in the spring, which would allow him or her to cultivate relationships with the people who would want to serve as mentors [beginning next fall, 2012].”

Schools: Gearing Up For Day One

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By Claire Walla


Taking Advantage of Tax Cap Exemptions

Starting a process board members hope to continue through the next budget season, the district heard a presentation from District Business Manager Janet Verneuille on the two-percent tax levy cap.

Verneuille noted three crucial exemptions to the cap. First: pension cost increases above a certain threshold, which in this case is two percent. In other words, Verneuille explained that this year the district’s increase in pension contribution costs is 2.49 percent, so .49 percent will be exempted from the cap.

Secondly, the tax cap will exempt the local share of capital expenditures. “That’s good news,” Verveuille exclaimed, “that’s huge.” Without this exemption, she continued, the district would have less incentive to pass capital improvement projects.

The third exemption refers to certain legal expenses. However, Verneuille explained, “this does not apply” to this district.

The board briefly discussed the notion of looking at its current budget with a little more scrutiny to get a better sense of where some cost-saving measures might lie. Referencing the school’s clubs and sports programs, board member Walter Wilcoxen wondered how much the district could save if certain programs were cut.

“What about trying to pare-down now” to avoid making more drastic cut-backs going into next year, he wondered.

Board Member Chris Tice said she agreed, in theory, with being proactive in taking steps to cut costs, but she cautioned the board against looking at certain aspects of the budget with a narrow lens.

“The beauty of the budget process is that we get to see what our program looks like, A through Z,” she said. “We’re looking at it from an informed, balanced perspective.”

With both perspectives, the board had little argument, and yet drew no conclusions. The discussion will be ongoing.


Summer School a Success

Before giving his “back to school” report at last Monday’s board of education meeting, August 14, Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone spoke for a few minutes about the success of this year’s summer school program.

“We invited the same number of students as last year,” he said. “But our participation rate was higher than in years past. Bussing [which was provided for all students] made it more possible for parents to get their kids to and from school.” Most importantly, he added, it made it so that students were in their classrooms on-time, which had been a problem in years past.

School Board Member Sandi Kruel complimented Malone on a job well done, explaining that field trips — like those to the South Fork Natural History Museum, Morton Wildlife Center and even a math-related journey to Conca D’Oro, measuring ingredients for pizza dough — reportedly made the experience worthwhile for one family she spoke with.

“However you did it this year, it was the first time I heard of a student actually enjoying summer school,” she noted.


Enrollment Increases

Though enrollment is slightly up at the elementary school with the closing of Stella Maris last year, Malone said, as of now, enrollment “is still fairly steady” in comparison to last year. In fact, the slight increase is even less than administrators had initially imagined because much of the Catholic school’s student population was from out of district.

“Many of those families that live in Sag Harbor and chose Stella Maris for the Catholic education chose to go to Our Lady of the Hamptons [in Southampton],” he explained.

However, while the main student body will remain steady, the district’s Pre-K program — which was offered last year for a fee, but is free for all families in the district this year — has an expected enrollment of 42. “It’s a big up-tic from last year,” Malone continued, when the program had 12 students. The Pre-K program is scheduled to have two morning sessions and one in the afternoon.


Playground to be Ready for Start of School

Though it may look like a giant sandbox now, Principal Matt Malone confirmed Monday night that the district just signed a contract with Lobo Construction Company to begin work on the school’s new playground. The work actually began last Tuesday, August 15 and is scheduled to be completed next Thursday, August 25.

“We’re right on track,” he continued, noting that the work will all be complete before the start of the school year.


New Courses for the New Year

At the upper school, Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols announced four new classes that will be offered this year. In addition to a 3D sculpture course and advanced marine biology (which will be taught by Dr. Robert Shoemacher, himself a former marine bio major), the school will add a year-long personal finance class. This is a subject several board members and participants at last year’s educational forums highlighted for its importance. Lastly, the school will offer a course in social studies called Philosophy of Understanding. Nichols said it is partially modeled after courses in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which emphasize critical thinking and a depth of knowledge over wide-ranging survey courses.

Nichols also pointed out that the school will see a savings of about $75,000 this year. Instead of hiring a new faculty member in the wake of art teacher Tim Kraszewski’s retirement, “his classes have been farmed out to other departments,” as Nichols put it.

“The big challenge this year will be to finish portions two and three of the IB application,” Nichols continued. Should all go according to the current timeline, Nichols expects the school to be approved in the spring, which would allow Pierson to begin offering its first IB Diploma courses in the fall of 2012.

Five Easy Lessons

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by Courtney M. Holbrook


After years of tests and classes, grades and extracurricular activities, the seniors of Pierson High School are done. Some will go on to more grades and classes at their respective universities; others will take different paths.

The 2011 class of Pierson High School graduated on Saturday, June 25. Although the day began with promises of rain, the sky was clear and the wind blew softly — one that signaled the end of days past and the promise of new beginnings.

At 5 p.m., the 2011 class filed down the grassy hill in front of Pierson High School. The girls wore white gowns and the boys wore black. On the sidelines, parents and siblings, grandparents and godparents, aunts and uncles and more stood smiling and flashing photographs.

As the students took their seats on the white chairs arrayed before the audience, the Pierson Band and the Sag Harbor Community Band sounded out the processional. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the Senior Chorus of Pierson High School sang the National Anthem. Members in the crowd gently sang along, some voices loud, others soft.

After introductions made by Elizabeth Oldak, a Pierson 2011 graduate, Gabriel Burford stepped forward. He was to make the salutatorian address. He warned the crowd that he was not known “for the length of my sentences,” but he would do his best.

“To our parents, you got your kids on this hill alive,” Burford said. “And here we are. Thank you.”

Noticing the mild applause, Burford shouted, “This isn’t a funeral, no one died. So let’s here it.”

Burford’s twin brother, Graham Connor Burford, then approached the podium to give the valedictorian address. His address was marked by a discussion of art and academics, noting, “If we use our imaginations and our creativity, we will turn out with our smiles still on.” However, the audience applauded when, at the end of his speech, he pulled out a ukulele.

“This is a cross between Bruno Marx and Jack Johnson melodies,” Burford said. “Hopefully it will work.”

For the audience, it did work out. They cheered at the end when Burford welcomed the students to the “freedom” of post-high school life.

Awards followed the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches as numerous students stepped down to receive their scholastic, artistic and athletic honors. Then, Joan Frisicano, the former principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School, gave the commencement address.

“When they first asked me to do this, I honestly said, ‘Wow, budget cuts must have cut deep this year,” Frisicano said to audience laughter. “But I of course immediately accepted. I was so honored.”

Frisicano’s speech was the second graduation speech she had made to many of the Pierson graduates. She doubted they remembered her speech to them seven years ago, when they left elementary school. Now, she offered new lessons for the world after high school.

Frisicano divided her lessons into five parts — “seize the moment,” “you decide,” “go for it,” “hang in there” and “do some good.” Seemingly simple, she elaborated, offering suggestions and philosophical anecdotes to encourage the new graduates.

“Young people today are gifted in some ways, cursed in others,” Frisicano said. “You have instant access to everything, but success is not instantaneous. You have to take it up and do things that aren’t as exciting as you’d like, don’t pay as much as you like, in order to succeed.”

Frisicano concluded the speech with hope and discussed the “beginning of a new adventure and a life well lived with purpose” for the graduates.

The Pierson Senior Chorus returned to the stage as Frisicano left the podium. They sang, “What I Did for Love,” from the musical, “A Chorus Line.”

At the last refrain, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Gratto, and the principal of Pierson, Jeff Nichols, stepped up to the podium. The time the students and families had been waiting for had arrived. They presented the diplomas for the class of 2011.

After each student stood up holding the paper that granted him or her entryway to life beyond high school, they sang the alma mater.

Finally, they walked back down the aisle in two rows of white and black, with family members standing alongside the chalk-lined rows on the green grass. As they passed through the audience of chairs, some of the previous solemnity evaporated, and the new graduates started running through the lawn.

The Pierson High School class of 2011 had officially graduated. It was time for new goals and adventures.

“May I present the class of 2011,” Nichols said. “Congratulations.”

Lady Whalers Play For It All

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By EJ Yennie

The Pierson Bridgehampton Lady Whalers (12-5-0) and the Port Jefferson Royals (14-3-0) face off in a three game battle for the Suffolk County League VIII Championship on Friday, May 27 at 4 p.m. in Port Jefferson.

The series looks to be great match up, with the Lady Whalers and the Royals sharing some striking similarities. For one, each team has only lost to the other in League VIII play; with their other losses coming against teams in league VII and League VI. Secondaly, both the Lady Whalers and the Royals have mercied (won by more than twelve runs by or in the fifth inning) every other team in League VIII at least once this season.  Lastly, both teams have remarkable Junior pitchers.

As Pierson Lady Whaler’s Coach Mellissa Edwards put it “We always play well against Port Jeff-this year we want to play well and win.”

Coach Edwards remains confident in her team’s ability to take two of the three games needed to win the series.  “The key to my team is to stay relaxed and confident in their abilities. We’ve played them in the past: this year it is our time to win.”

The second game of the series will be at home, behind Pierson High School, on Tuesday, May 31 at 4 p.m.  If a final game if needed to determine the winner it will be held in Port Jefferson on Thursday, June 2 at 4 p.m.



Varsity Softball Sets Out for Championship

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By Jacob Sisson

“I don’t want to lose any games this season.”

Those are bold words from Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers softball coach Melissa Edwards on the eve of the 2011 softball season. Considering that Edwards and the Lady Whalers graduated just two seniors last year, that goal could be a reachable reality.

“We’re definitely taking this season a day at a time, but there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be headed upstate this season,” says a confident coach Edwards. The Lady Whalers are hoping to improve on last year’s 14-4 mark that saw them finish second in Suffolk County’s League VIII.

“A lot of the team was on the field hockey squad this year, so they got to go up and experience the state tournament. I know they’re all eager to get back up there again.”

Despite last year’s excellent league record, the Lady Whalers met with disappointment in the first round of the Suffolk County Class “C” tournament, losing in the semi-finals against Mercy. Many of League VIII’s top talents have moved on, but that isn’t the case for the Lady Whalers.

“We’re bringing back a lot of our top talent from last year. We’ve got a great group of seniors who are really going to be the center of our team this year.

“We’re looking for a lot of leadership from our returning players. We’ve got seven or eight returning starters and with that I expect a lot.

“Offensively we should be pretty solid throughout the lineup, we have speed and power so I am expecting big things. Last year I focused a lot on our defense, but this season I am pretty confident in that and now it’s time to manufacture runs, get them on and get them around.

“We’re going to be very good from the top of the lineup to the bottom. We’re not going to be relying only on our one-through-five hitters. We’re going to be solid from the leadoff hitter to the number nine hitter.”

Those seniors are going to be critical, as the team is looking to leapfrog over perennial League VIII contenders Port Jefferson in the chase for the league title. The Royals finished last season with a 15-3 record, including winning both of the two teams’ matchups. The Lady Whalers’ only other losses came against Babylon and Bayport-Blue Point, who finished at the top of last season’s league seven standings.

“I’m expecting big seasons from Kaci Koehne, Kasey Gilbride, and Melanie Stafford.

“I have an amazing infield returning. With Melanie on the mound, we get really solid pitching. We have Catherine Musnicki as the catcher, Samantha James, who is one of the best defensive first baseman, I’d say, on Long Island, Lindsey Warne and Alexa Lantiere as our second basemen, Kaci Koehne holds down the short stop area, and Kasey Gilbride, who has grown so much as a softball player this past summer and winter will be at third. She can get to balls you’d never think anyone can get to.

“In the outfield I have Nina Hemby, Sariah Cafiero, and Julia Schiavoni, with help from Lindsey Warne and Alexa Lantiere. Newcomers India Hemby and Rebecca Spechenbach will see time in the outfield primarily and some infield here and there.”

Pierson/Bridgehampton gets their first crack at the top of the league when they welcome Port Jefferson to town on April 6. Other key matchups on the road to the post season will come on April 27, when the Lady Whalers welcome Bayport-Blue Point and on May 4 when the Lady Whalers head to Babylon.

The season closes on a high as the Lady Whalers square off against Port Jefferson and Mercy in back-to-back away matchups in the final two games of the 2011 regular season.

With that kind of roster, and that kind of motivation, you can see where coach Edwards gets her confidence.

Strong Girls JV Squad Shined in League Play

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By Jacob Sisson


There was more than one successful girl’s basketball team at the Pierson High School in the 2010-2011 season, and after a solid 7-10 season, including a 7-7 league record, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers Junior Varsity squad should ease the loss of five graduating varsity starters.

Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Kevin Barron did what any seasoned coach does to get the best out of his team: test them early and challenge them to gel as a unit.

“After a tough non-league schedule, the team really began to mesh together when our league schedule began,” said Barron.

“We averaged approximately 20 points a game during our non-league games, and ended up averaging 32 points a game during our league schedule. Everyone seemed to find their offensive role as the season progressed.”

The Lady Whalers had a good balance of sophomores and freshmen to work with, boasting six sophomores and nine freshmen. The sophomores who were the team’s real leaders were Maricarmen Chavez, Rachel Saidman, Abby Ruiz, Sydnee Mckie-Senior, Julia Schiavoni and Holly Zappola.”

Those sophomores were key to the success of the team on the whole, helping power the team to victory and pull them out of trouble on a number of occasions.

“For our offensive game, we relied on the dominant play of Abby Ruiz in the paint and Rachel Saidman from the outside. Maricarmen Chavez and Sydney Mckie-Senior, as well as freshman May Evjen added points with their nice touch from the outside.”

One game that stuck out in Barron’s mind and was a real highlight of the season was a 36-34 victory over League VIII foes Southold.

“At Southold, we went into halftime down 14 points and were down as many as 18 in the first half. The second half we dominated and ended up winning the game.”

“This game gave the girls a tremendous confidence boost since Southold is one of the best teams in the league.”

More than just the team’s talent shone through in the victory over Southold, as Barron pointed to the team’s “never quit attitude” as one of its strongest qualities.

“We grew so much as a team this season. The girls worked extremely hard to get better and always put the team first before themselves. By the end of the season, other teams feared the team’s defense and aggressiveness.”

Defense and aggressiveness will be qualities that are sure to please Lady Whalers varsity coach Dennis Case. Case is losing five of his most important players from the past season to graduation and will need to reload from this talented junior varsity squad.

Joining Chavez, Saidman, Ruiz, Mckie-Senior, Schiavoni and Zappola in the fight for a spot on the varsity roster will be freshmen May Evjen, Ashley Nill, Katy Koehne, Sydney Mitchell, Eilis Scheil, Alexus Suydam, Dianna Rozzi, Sol Varela and Emme Luck.

“The sophomores moving to the varsity level will immediately play key roles in the success of the program next year. The remaining freshmen will continue to work in preparation to the journey on varsity.”

With so much talent waiting in the wings, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers basketball program has little to fear for the next few years