By Benito Vila
Although the stands have been bare when they play, the Lady Whalers are making their own noise. A 53-21 win over Ross Friday put the Pierson girls into the county post-season tournament for the fourth consecutive year and ran their league mark to 6-3.
Matching up with Mercy at Pierson on Tuesday, that feel-good moment got away, the end coming too quick and the visitors making off with a 39-29 win. The outcome mixes up the post-season seedings some, Pierson now likely to meet undefeated Stony Brook in the first round rather than two-seed Southold.
Stony Brook comes next for the Lady Whalers, the Pierson girls going there this afternoon knowing they could be back again in just two weeks. While the stakes will be higher then, the Lady Whalers would like to come away from today more consistently than they did Tuesday against Mercy.
That game started with Mercy opening up a 14-5 advantage and Pierson battling back to tie at 15 just before halftime. In the second half, a Lady Monarch press disrupted the Lady Whaler offense, and an injury in the backcourt depleted the Pierson defense, sparking a 16-5 Mercy run and putting the visitors up 33-20 with just over six minutes remaining.
When the final buzzer sounded, both Pierson and Mercy moved to 6-4 on the season with the Lady Monarchs staking a claim to the number three seed and the Lady Whalers falling to the fourth seed.
Coming off the court afterwards, Pierson girls’ varsity coach Dennis Case said, “That was disappointing. We missed five easy lay-ups at the beginning and it cost us. It didn’t help us that we didn’t do well on the glass later on; they beat us to balls and created more chances. That cost us, too.”
The Playoff Clincher
The pace of Friday’s game was quite the opposite for the Pierson side, the Lady Whalers jumping out to a 16-6 first quarter lead and going into the fourth up 41-16. The final buzzer set off a subdued Pierson celebration, a 53-21 final up on the scoreboard.
Leading the Lady Whalers in scoring was Sarah Barrett with 17 points. Sam James tallied 14, Emily Hinz eight, Amanda Busiello and Sam Kamper four each and Kaci Koehne and Bridget Canavan two apiece.
Tuesday saw James lead the team with ten points, Busiello lift in eight, Hinz five and Barrett four. Yesterday, Coach Case described what’s ahead for the team, saying, “We need to focus on Stony Brook for tomorrow and the playoffs. It’s a tough uphill battle, but we’ll do the best we can. Hopefully, we’ll get a good crowd for Port Jeff next Wednesday.”
It looks like we could finish 7-5 in league play which isn’t bad for a rebuilding year. We will have the same group of 10 players returning. The girls are expressing interest in playing in the summer league, along with some camps. That’ll help us ahead.”
So Many Empty Seats
In mentioning next Wednesday’s finale against Port Jefferson, Coach Case diplomatically noted the lack of fan support his girls have had this season, parents coming, but all too often the other side getting as many people to turn out.
To counteract all that quiet, Coach Case has written letters to the papers covering his team, inviting them to be a part of a “Coaches for Cancer” benefit his team has put together for the home finale.
In the letter to The Express, Case described the passion he saw at a recent Whaler game and what he remembered playing against Pierson in the 1960s. Wanting his girls to have the same experience, Coach Case wrote, “It would be exciting and extremely gratifying for the Pierson Lady Whalers to have the same atmosphere at one of our games.” Tip-off next Wednesday is 6:15 p.m.
Low Point for Lady Ravens
The Ross School girls’ varsity reached a low point Tuesday, losing to Stony Brook 63-7 at home.
Still to come on the Lady Ravens’ schedule are Port Jefferson this afternoon at home at 6:15 p.m., a trip to Southold on Monday and the season finale at home against Mercy on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.
The Lady Whaler JV came out ahead in both of its games this week, topping Ross 36-17 Friday and Mercy 48-42 Tuesday to push their overall record to 8-6.
Coach Kevin Barron described Tuesday’s win as “a great one for the team since we lost a close game to them the first time. The girls have been waiting to play Mercy again and they made the most of it.” In citing the difference in the game, Coach Barron said, “We continued to move the ball well on offense and did an excellent job creating fast breaks.”
The JV girls have three games left on their schedule, traveling to Stony Brook today and hosting Smithtown Christian Monday at 4:30 p.m. and Port Jefferson Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Eighth graders Kasey Gilbride and Katherine Matthers have been the team’s top scorers of late, Matthers recording thirteen at Ross and eleven at home Tuesday. Gilbride, meanwhile, dropped in six against Ross and twelve against Mercy.