By Benito Vila
A thing of beauty may be a joy forever, but a 63-39 final score in high school basketball is neither beautiful nor joyful, for either team.
On Friday, the Pierson boys’ varsity basketball team made its home debut, the new Whalers coming in looking to send the Southold Settlers back to the North Fork with their first loss of the season.
Despite the support of a small but vocal crowd, the home team mustered too little offense to challenge the visitors. The Settlers held a 19-7 lead after the first quarter and a 33-14 lead at the half.
Southold put the game away in the third, a 7-0 run and then an 8-0 run pushing back a brief Pierson charge.
The difference between the two teams came down to ball handling, the Settler defense collapsing quickly on the Whalers, who all too often lost possession off the dribble or on ill-advised passes. Those turnovers set up Southold with easy baskets and extra opportunities, putting pressure on Pierson to play the game at a catch-up tempo and do more than it could.
Whaler coach Christian Johns summed up the game by saying, “Defensively, we did some good things but still need to improve on protecting the paint. Offensively, our ball handling and pass selection will be a consistent focus in practice. I was impressed by the play of a couple of our younger guys. I thought they came in, remained composed, and made some positive decisions with the ball.”?
Our Record is 0-0
The closest the Whalers came to the Settlers was with 1:59 left in the first quarter, Skyler Loesch making the score 11-7 Southold by putting an offensive rebound back up and turning a teammate’s miss into two points. Four turnovers on the next four Pierson possessions, led to a pair of fast-break baskets and a pair of short jump shots, giving the visitors their 19-7 lead.
There was optimism on the Pierson side to open the third quarter, Tyler Gilbride getting two points from the floor and Luke Kirrane a pair from the line. That quick 4-0 Whaler run cut the Settler lead to 15, at 33-18, but Southold responded with a three-pointer, a put-back and a steal to put the game away, up 22, with 6:02 in the third.
Pierson was never able to get any closer, despite the effort made by Loesch, Gilbride, Kirrane, T.J. Arreguin, Seamus Doyle, Brook Hartnett, Sean Hartnett, Dylan Hmielenski and Nolan O’Brien. Kirrane led the Whalers with 14 points, Loesch lofting in 12. Gilbride added six, Sean Hartnett five and Doyle two.
The loss leaves the Whalers 0-2 in League VIII and 0-5 overall going into the school break. Gilbride, for one has not given up hope, saying Tuesday, “We’re working hard. Past games, there’s nothing you can do about them. Our record is 0-0 and now we have to focus on Mercy.”
That non-league match-up with Mercy comes Wednesday at Pierson. Tip-off is set for 6:15 p.m. League play resumes Tuesday, January 5, the Whalers taking the short trip to Ross. Tip-off there is also scheduled for 6:15 p.m.
The Pierson Whaler JV jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead on the Settler JV and came off the court with a 46-26 win. The team’s inspired hustle and consistent footwork made them tough to beat on either end.
JV coach Jonathan Tortorella said afterwards, “I was very impressed with our energy and focus today. We need to be consistent in coming to practice and games with the same intensity from start to finish. It was a solid performance overall, but I was particularly happy with our defensive effort. Offensively, we need to be a little more disciplined in what we do but we are much improved in that area as well.”
“Patrick Sloane played great today. He went to the basket aggressively and shot 14-for-17 from the line, finishing with 19 points in the game. Defensively, Joe Butts, Aidan Kirrane and Jake Bennett played very well. We rebounded the ball much better tonight as well.”
“Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into practice and be ready to play some good basketball against Mercy on December 30th.”
That game precedes the varsity match-up on Wednesday and is due to start at 4:30 p.m.