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Whalers Fall to Settlers, Face Mercy Wednesday

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web Pierson-Southold Basketball 09_0474

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.

Fancy Footwork

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.

Unsettling Loss for Lady Whalers

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By Benito Vila

Consistency. It’s a word many coaches use much the same way TV hucksters use “not available in stores.” It’s a phrase meant to get your attention.

And with good reason: consistency, in any sport, is a way of describing those habits that create success. Coaches know that winning comes from doing the routine well, so well that the extraordinary becomes possible.

In basketball, consistency is being in position to break a press, find an open teammate and get a good shot. It’s dribbling with your head up, anticipating pressure but not reacting to it.

It’s all the countless details needed to be in the right place for a rebound. It’s what’s worked on in practice: the things to master as an individual and as a team to win, consistently.

Sometimes things fall apart though as they did for the Pierson Lady Whalers in Southold last Friday, their first league road game ending with a long ride home. The Lady Settlers successfully defended their home court, breaking open a close game in the second half to win 61-41.

The Lady Whalers, now 1-1 in League VIII and 1-4 overall, stayed close at the start, trailing 11-9 after the first quarter and 28-22 at the half. The third quarter saw Pierson fall further back, 49-32, and Southold go on to add three points to its margin in the fourth.

Zoned Out

Pierson girls’ varsity coach Dennis Case is using the game and its outcome as a place to improve from going forward. “Offensively, we did OK. The real problem was our defense. We did not play well on the defensive boards and were slow to adjust with our man-to-man defense.”

“As well as we played defensively against Shelter Island [a 46-34 win at home, December 15], the opposite was the case against Southold. They had too many easy layups. We were slow to react even when we played our 1-2-2 zone. We lost our focus.”

Looking at the solution, Coach Case added, “We’re going to get back in the gym, and work on boxing out and rebounding. We will also tighten up our defense and key on our zone. It’s all about consistency, consistency, consistency.”

Juniors Lead

With nary a senior on the team, junior co-captains Samantha James and Sarah Barrett have stepped up on the court, James leading the Lady Whalers Friday with 17 points and Barrett bringing home 15. Classmates Kaci Koehne and Amanda Busiello added five points and two points respectively, with sophomore Sariah Cafiero firing in the team’s other basket.

This week, the Pierson girls go to Bay Shore on Wednesday morning to meet an accomplished League II program. The team is back to League VIII play Tuesday, January 5, hosting Ross at 6:15 p.m.

A Simple Difference

The Lady Whaler JV saw their Lady Settler counterparts take control in their contest Friday, the scoreboard revealing a one-sided 46-14 result at the final buzzer.

Pierson girls’ JV coach Kevin Barron described the difference between the team being “turnovers and rebounds. The pressure by Southold caused us to throw the ball away and give them easy fast break points. They also dominated us on the boards allowing them to have easy points off of offensive rebounds.”

 “However, I was very happy with the team’s attitude during the game. They played their hardest and gave 100% until the very end. [Eighth graders] May Evjen and Sol Varela played extremely well off the bench showing their aggressiveness taking the ball to the ball to the basket. 

The JV takes the court again on Wednesday in Bay Shore.

It’s One and Done for Pierson Girl’s Varsity Basketball

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The Pierson Girls Varsity Basketball Team’s season came to a close on Tuesday after they played and lost to the Lady Clippers of Southold 46-33.

This was the first — and last — of their playoff games.

The Lady Whalers started out slow, according to coach Dennis Case, and they were lacking in the defensive area.

“We didn’t do good,” the coach said, “and the kids knew it.”

Even with the team’s starting senior Katie Oseicki back in the game this week after an injury last week to the same team on the road, the girls did not seem to have the same stamina they had projected throughout the season.

“She wasn’t $100 Katie,” the coach said. “You can see that in the second half, she scored a bunch.” But the first half was a different story.

During the first quarter, the Lady Whalers trailed by three points; but that gap increased during the second quarter.

At the half the Lady Whalers were down by 15 points, the score 27-12.

By the end of the third quarter, Pierson was still behind Southold, 39-26, even though they outscored the Lady Clippers by two points during the period.

It was almost a comeback game for Pierson during the fourth, as the gap was closed slightly and the Lady Whalers were able to “shut down” Southold’s dominant player, Kim Van Bourgondien.

“We brought it back within six points with 3:45 minutes to go,” the coach said. But the final tally showed Southold winning by 13 points. 

Top scorer Tuesday night was Oseicki with 10 points. Following Oseicki was sophomore Samantha James with seven points. Gabrielle Arondel, a senior, brought in six points for the Lady Whalers during the game.

There were only two three-pointers scored by Pierson on Tuesday; one by Bridgehampton senior, Ala Pinckney and the other by Pierson sophomore Sarah Barrett who both tallied five points against the Lady Clippers. 

Overall the coach said he is very proud of the girls and the work they did this season.

“It was a good season,” he said, “collectively I had one of the best seasons ever and these girls were the most fun to coach.”

He said that their efforts as a team helped them get into the playoffs. “They did a lot together,” he continued, “They played together as a team on and off the court.”

The coach said he is going to be losing six girls next year, and added, “that is going to be hard to replace.”

Winding up their Lady Whaler careers on the court are seniors Katie Osiecki, Gabrielle Arondel, Ala Pinckney, Nell Kruszynski, Alicia Tagliasacchi and Arielle Chase. Juniors Brittany Scala and Alexia Faraguna are expected to return next year under Coach Case.