By Benito Vila
“It’s for girls” is one of those dismissive things that uninformed people say when they talk about field hockey, softball, figure skating and the like. Anyone who follows girls’ and women’s sports knows the effort those athletes put in is every bit as inspired and intent as that of their male counterparts.
Regardless of gender, there’s an aspect of sports that is sudden, the physical and the emotional at times colliding, player on player, team against team. Still, it’s shocking, in any field of play, to see sportsmanship get lost and have graciousness lose out to thoughtlessness.
That sort of brutality is always unexpected, especially in watching a one-sided high school basketball game. Those attending the girls’ varsity match-up at Pierson Monday unfortunately witnessed such a cruel moment first-hand: Pierson’s Sariah Cafiero going up for a fast break bucket in the second quarter only to have a Stony Brook player run through her and send her crashing to the floor.
That denied the Lady Whalers a basket they needed, the Pierson girls being down 22-6 at the time. It also sent Cafiero to the hospital, a broken wrist ending her season.
Pierson never came any closer the rest of the way, Stony Brook finishing the first half up 31-7 and taking a 41-14 lead at the end of the third quarter, before going home with a 53-21 win.
The loss leaves the Lady Whalers at 3-2, going into Saturday morning’s match-up at 1-3 Port Jefferson. That game closes out the first half of Pierson’s season, with Tuesday’s 5:45 p.m. start on Shelter Island opening up the second half.
The League At Large
So far, Stony Brook and Southold are atop League VIII as the regular season schedule nears the halfway mark, the two teams undefeated thus far, their first match-up coming tomorrow at Southold.
Pierson currently ranks right behind the pair and seems on track to face one of the two in the Class C out-bracket game February 16. The winner of that out-bracket game will meet the regular season league champion on Friday, February 19 for the county title.
As of yesterday morning, Shelter Island (2-3), Mercy (2-3) and Ross (0-5) rounded out the league’s standings. The Lady Indians and the Lady Monarchs met last night in a game that gives the winner an inside track to the post-season.
Bad News Bears
The Lady Bears’ rough treatment of Cafiero was unfortunate but by no means intentional.
It was consistent though with an aggressive, physical style of play that allowed the larger, more experienced visitors to build an early advantage. From the start, Stony Brook defense disrupted Pierson’s offensive flow, the Lady Bears ending up with extra chances they made good on with slick ball handling and on-target shooting.
After an 11-1 run in the second quarter put Pierson back by 24, Stony Brook cut short any thought of a Lady Whaler comeback by knocking down three three-pointers at the start of the third quarter. Those nine points negated a promising 4-0 start for Pierson, Kaci Koehne and Sam James scoring from underneath.
When the final buzzer sounded, James led all the Lady Whalers in scoring with seven points, Koehne contributing four and Sarah Barrett, Sam Kamper, Amanda Busiello and Emily Hinz each adding two apiece.
Pierson coach Dennis Case complemented the Lady Bears pointing out, “They played a complete game today. They shot well, passed well and cut us off.” He also praised his team saying, “We never quit. We kept coming at them. We just need to be more consistent; we had too many unforced errors.”
Knowing that the Lady Bears await his team again in three weeks and perhaps again after that, Coach Case seemed unfazed. “We’re focused on Port Jefferson Saturday. We have a long way to go and I want to make sure we’re prepared for that game.”
One For the Ages
Not to be forgotten in Monday’s loss was the Lady Whalers’ comeback victory over Mercy on Friday. Down 24-18 at the half and 41-37 after the third quarter, the Pierson girls went on a 16-0 run to win 53-41.
Coach Case said afterwards, “We played an excellent fourth. They pressed us and we handled it easily. Sarah had some key steals and Annie [Osiecki] had some key rebounds. We really put it all together; it was the best we’ve played all year.”
Barrett finished with 19 points, 17 of those coming in the second half. James tossed in ten, with Busiello and Koehne each getting eight. Cafiero scored four, Osiecki and Bridget Canavan adding two apiece.
The Ross varsity girls found themselves down 14-2 after the first quarter at Port Jefferson Monday, but played their opponents better than even the rest of the way to come home with a 43-33 loss.
Raven coach Garrett Cutler said afterwards, “It was a winnable game, but we had a hard time coming back from their early run. We did a better job the last three quarters on stopping the fast breaks and settling into defensive situations. We still need to work on giving up so many turnovers and settling the ball on offense.”
Kayla Jerito led Ross with 21 points on Monday, Lyndsey Fridie scoring eight and Cholena Smith and Particia Hines each netting a pair.
Just seven on the Raven roster, Coach Cutler remains entirely upbeat, adding, “The girls undoubtedly work very hard. We need to concentrate on winning each quarter. We have a stretch of home games after being on the road for a while, so we are looking to log a few wins on our home turf.”
The Lady Ravens had Southold in last night and host Shelter Island next Friday at 6:15 p.m. and Pierson in the Friday after at 5:45 p.m.
The Pierson girls’ JV team improved its record to 3-2 in league play this week, and 4-3 overall, overcoming a 40-26 loss to Mercy Friday with a dominating 45-17 victory over Stony Brook Monday.
Coach Kevin Barron saw Friday’s game slip away late, a three-point Pierson lead at the start of the fourth disappearing long before the final buzzer. There was no chance of that occurring again Monday, the young Lady Whalers taking a 20-1 lead in the first quarter and a 32-3 lead at the half.
Julia Schiavoni led the attack Monday with eight points, Maricarmen Chavez, Katherine Matthers, May Evjen, and Sydnee Mckie-Senior each contributing six points. Five points from Rachel Saidman and four from Sol Varela capped the scoring.
Looking forward to the second half of the season, Coach Barron said his team is working on “fine tuning our offensive skills, focusing on ball movement and not turning the ball over. Overall, I am very impressed by this team. They continue to work hard, improve, and most importantly, have fun everyday.”
The JV girls travel with the varsity to Port Jefferson Saturday and Shelter Island Tuesday. They are home next Friday, hosting Southold at 4:30 p.m.