Tag Archive | "Whalers"

Sag Harbor Whalers in Mix for Regular Season Title

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Montauk's John Palladino beats Ted Shaw's tag at second base during the game between the Sag Harbor Whalers and the Montauk Mustangs at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday,

Montauk’s John Palladino beats Ted Shaw’s tag at second base during the game between the Sag Harbor Whalers and the Montauk Mustangs at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

The final games of the regular season will played this weekend in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, which as of Tuesday had five teams separated by just two-and-a-half games in the standings.

The Sag Harbor Whalers are one of the teams still in the mix for a regular season title, which they won last year before going on to lose in a playoff semifinal. The Whalers improved to 19-16 with a 9-1 win over Montauk at home on Sunday and as of Tuesday were tied with Riverhead for second place, just a half game behind the first-place North Fork Ospreys, who Sag Harbor hosted on Wednesday night after this edition’s deadline.

The Whalers’ final two regular-season games are at home against Shelter Island tomorrow, July 25, at 2 p.m. and at Montauk on Saturday at 5 p.m. The postseason will begin next week, with a champion being crowned on August 3.

It was Alex Person (Southern New Hampshire) who shined brightest on Sunday, tossing a complete-game four-hitter to shutdown the reeling Montauk Mustangs (14-23), who have been in last place for much of their first year in the league. Person was masterful on Sunday, especially late, as he retired the final 10 hitters to improve his league-best ERA to 1.34.

Person also received plenty of support from the Whalers offense, which compiled 14 hits in the game, including three each from Dan Rizzie (Xavier) and Nolan Meadows (Long Beach State). It was Meadows who opened the floodgates early with a solo home run in the fourth inning. He added a two-run double in the eighth that effectively put the game out of reach.

Outfielders Joe Gellenbeck (Xavier) and James Clements (Georgia State)  had two hits apiece and all but two of the Whalers who saw action picked up hits in the game.

Sunday’s win was made more important following an extra-innings 9-8 loss to Riverhead on Friday, July 18. Riverhead was in total control for most of the game and led 8-2 after seven innings. The Whalers scored one run in the eighth and closed to within 8-5 in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Scott Hagan (Mercy). With two outs, Zach Piazza (Wake Forest) and Gellenbeck hit back-to-back doubles to score three more runs to even the score.

The excitement was short-lived, however, as Riverhead’s Cole Fabio (Bryant) hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to plate the winning run.

Extra Innings Thriller Puts Whalers in First Place

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Dan Rizzie (Xavier) had returned to lead the Whalers in 2014.

Dan Rizzie (Xavier) had returned to lead the Whalers in 2014.

By Connor W. Vorhaus; photography by Gavin Menu

Less than two weeks ago, the Sag Harbor Whalers were fighting to just get a win. Now, after defeating the Shelter Island Bucks in extra innings on Sunday, the Whalers have sole possession of first place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

After two extra innings of scoreless play, the Whalers opened the floodgates as the sun went down at Fiske Field on Shelter Island late Sunday, scoring four runs in the top of the 11th inning, to escape with a memorable 7-3 victory.

As a result, the Whalers improved to 13-9 and sit atop the league standings, just a half-game clear of second-place North Fork.

“Once we started working on just developing our game, these guys bought in to what we are doing here in Sag Harbor, and playing hard every single day,” said Whalers manager Danny Benedetti after Sunday’s win. “The biggest thing for us was just to have fun. In the beginning of the season we were worrying about wins and losses, and we got off track. Although in today’s game we started slow, we found a way to grind through and win.”

Next up for Sag Harbor is a rematch with Shelter Island tomorrow, July 4, at 10 a.m. in Mashashimuet Park. The teams play an annual Independence Day game to honor Army First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, who was killed in Afghanistan in June of 2012, and U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2008.

If Sunday’s game on Shelter Island was any indication of what will go down tomorrow, then fans will be in for a treat. With the Whalers fighting for first place, fans from Sag Harbor trekked to Shelter Island on Sunday and made their presence felt at Fiske Field, letting the Whalers know they had the support of Sag Harbor behind them.

What started out as a tumultuous first three innings for the Whalers, capped by overthrown balls and fielding errors, was righted when the team started to play sound defense. Trailing 3-0 after two innings, the Whalers scored their first run of the game in the top of the fifth when James Clements, a junior from Georgia State University, scored off a single by Scott Hagan (Mercy College). The Whalers didn’t wait long to score again, with Hagan coming home to put Sag Harbor within a run of Shelter Island.

The Whalers failed to tie the game in the fifth inning, leaving runners on first and third, and Shelter Island fans began to leave the stands early, possibly thinking the Bucks would cruise to victory on their home field. The Whalers proved them wrong.

With one out in the top of the seventh inning, Sacred Heart University sophomore Ted Shaw hit a double to put himself in scoring position. Dan Rizzie, a junior from Xavier University, got to play hero for the Whalers, lofting a beautiful single to the outfield that brought Shaw home to tie the game at three.

With the Whalers bullpen pitching strong all evening, Benedetti turned the ball over in the seventh inning to Southern New Hampshire University sophomore, Alex Person, who  allowed only three hits over the three and a half innings to pick up the win.

Following tomorrow’s July 4th showdown against Shelter Island, the Whalers will play home again on Saturday against Southampton at 5 p.m. and on Sunday against Montauk, also at 5 p.m.

Whalers Come Up Short in State Final

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Pierson's Forrest Loesch sliding in safe at third during Saturday's semifinal win. The Whalers went on to lose in the finals later in the day.

Pierson’s Forrest Loesch sliding safely into third base during Saturday’s semifinal win. The Whalers went on to lose in the finals later in the day.

By Gavin Menu; photography and reporting by Michael Heller

A second straight banner season came to a disappointing end for the Pierson-Bridgehampton baseball team Saturday evening in Binghamton, where the Whalers lost 7-2 to the Hoosic Valley Indians in the championship  game of the New York State Class C baseball tournament.

After falling short in the state semifinal last year, the team returned with a strong core of seniors and took their journey one step farther with a 4-1 win over Bolivar-Richburg in the first of two semifinals played early Saturday.

Hoosic Valley, which knocked off defending Class C Champion Seton Catholic in the other semifinal, fell behind Pierson, 2-0, early in the championship game, which represented the grueling back end of a rare high school double-header and started close to 6 p.m.

Perhaps it was fatigue, perhaps it was just fate, but the wheels fell off for the Whalers (16-4) in the fourth inning.

With Senior Forrest Loesch on the mound and the Indians having tied the score at 2-2 in the third inning,  Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella sent senior knuckleballer Nick Kruel in with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth.

Kruel, who had started and pitched a complete game in the semifinal victory a few hours earlier, did not have his usual stuff and allowed the Indians to score five runs before Tim Markowski came on in relief to close out the inning with the Whalers trailing, 7-2.

Neither team mounted much of an attack during the final innings, and Hoosic Valley, which was the home team in the game, closed the book following a scoreless top of the seventh.

“We knew coming in here that it was going to be a battle, the other team was going to want it and we wanted it just as bad,” senior catcher Aaron Schiavoni said after the game ended. “It wasn’t there today, but it’s nothing to hang our heads about. When I started four years ago no one knew where Pierson or Sag Harbor was. Now, being able to come upstate twice and being able to accomplish championships and titles and southeast regional championships, we definitely made a name for ourselves.”

Pierson baseball has been on a quite a run these last two years. Against league competition, the Whalers lost just one game and that was in April of 2013 to this year’s state Class D Champion, Smithtown Christian. A series of dramatic postseason triumphs led Pierson on its two straight trips upstate.

In their semifinal victory, the Whalers scored three runs to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning and then rode the right arm of Kruel, who will pitch next year at the University of Tampa.

“It’s an awesome feeling making it past where we got last year,” Kruel said after his semifinal victory. “It was a really big team win. I threw strikes and the defense made outs and in the end we started hitting a little bit and got some runs. It’s just a great feeling.”

It was Loesch who got things going in the sixth inning, earning a walk before advancing to second on a bunt by Markowski. He came home on an RBI by Theo Gray for the go-ahead run, and the Whalers added two more for insurance.

“That game was really about capitalizing on opportunities, and us getting out of our jam when we were on defense,” Tortorella said. “But they were solid, Nick was great, and we did what we?had to do to score runs. It was a great overall team effort.”

The loss in the final ended the impressive careers of a handful of seniors who have been together since they were young boys, playing on the diamonds of Sag Harbor Little League. Loesch, Kruel, Markowski, Schiavoni and Kyle Sturmann made up the core of a team that won back-to-back league, Suffolk County, Long Island and regional titles for Pierson, falling one win short of the ultimate prize. They will graduate later this month along with fellow seniors Henry Kotz, a Bridgehampton student, and Ulysses Poulmentis.

“Right now we’re just worried about today, but in the grand scheme of things we realize what a great job they did, what a great season it was, what a tremendous team this is,” Tortorella said. “Right now it stings, but when the dust settles we’ll look back and realize just how important the things that we learned this year are.”

 

Bonac Boys Lacrosse Drops a Pair

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Drew Harvey, a senior at Pierson High School, working behind the goal during the East Hampton boys lacrosse team's 10-3 loss to Westhampton on Monday.

Drew Harvey, a senior at Pierson High School, working behind the goal during the East Hampton boys lacrosse team’s 10-3 loss to Westhampton on Monday.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

For 30 minutes at Westhampton Beach High School on Tuesday, players for the East Hampton boys lacrosse team had an upset victory on their minds.  That was until the Hurricanes blew open a 2-2 tie in the second half to claim a 10-3 victory that sent the Bonackers home with a 1-5 record in Division II play.

Westhampton, meanwhile, improved to 4-2 and moved into third place in the division standings behind Miller Place and Huntington.

“Unfortunately, for us, we have breakdowns where teams go on three- or four-goal runs,” head coach Mike Vitulli said on Tuesday. “We just haven’t been able to get that signature win. It’s just a matter of learning to close out games.”

The loss on Monday followed a tough 9-3 loss at home to Kings Park on April 8. That game was close early as well, but the Bonackers were once again held in check offensively during the last two quarters.

“Their goalie was the difference,” Vitulli said, referring to Kings Park keeper Michael Greco, who had 14 saves.  Sean Toole, another Pierson athlete who plays in goal for the Bonackers, had 12 saves in the game.

“Our goalie played well,” Vitulli added, “but their goalie stood on his head.”

Pierson’s Drew Harvey, the Bonackers’ leading scorer, and Jack Schleicher, another Pierson athlete, each scored a goal apiece in the two games last week, while Toole made 14 saves against Westhampton.

Vitulli on Tuesday pointed out that Long Island is one of the top two or three areas in the country for lacrosse, and that competition will always be extremely high in Suffolk County. So even as local youth leagues swell across the East End with large numbers of players, the task of developing a consist winning program remains a huge challenge.

“Kids play in the youth leagues, and then they play in middle school, but the travel commitment becomes an issue for some kids,” said Vitulli, whose program, like others in East Hampton, has struggled with participation. “The kids play other sports and have other commitments. We hope the numbers improve, but with so few kids we’re doing the best we can.”

East Hampton will host Mattituck/Greenport/Southold (2-4) on Tuesday, April 22 at 4:30 p.m.

Pierson Baseball Sweeps Southold, Still Perfect in League

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By Gavin Menu

The Pierson baseball team is finding all sorts of ways to win games this season. Veteran and rookie pitchers have been light out at times, while production from up-and-down the line-up and defensive gems across the infield have led to a predictable result: The Whalers are a perfect 6-0 in League IX.

Pierson swept its opening two series against what was expected to be its main competition for the league title. After beating Smithtown Christian in three straight, the Whalers closed out a three-game series win over Southold with a blowout victory that was followed by a tight, 1-0 win on Friday.

The team’s 11-3 win at Southold last Thursday, April 10 came with senior pitcher Nick Kruel dominating on the mound. Kruel tossed seven complete innings, and allowed just four hits and two walks. All three Southold runs were unearned, and put the Whalers in an early 3-0 hole.

“He got better as the game went on and he did a great job of overcoming some early defensive mistakes,” head coach Jon Tortorella said about Kruel.

Freshman James Sherry went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the game, and Forrest Loesch and Kyle Sturmann also had two hits apiece.

The Whalers returned home on Friday and squeaked out a 1-0 win to close out the series against Southold. Theo Gray and Ryan Chisholm combined to pitch the shutout, while Sherry scored the team’s only run in the bottom of the third inning after Aaron Schiavoni beat out a potential inning-ending double play at first base.

“Theo and Ryan really stepped up big time today,” said Tortorella, who remains without the option of regular starter Tim Markowski, who is out with a hand injury. “We needed that from them, they gave us a chance. They had an opportunity and they took advantage of it. We’re so proud of them.”

Pierson played a non-league game at Babylon last night, April 16, after press time and will return home to start a three-game series with Greenport on Monday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m.

Whalers Baseball Wins in Dramatic Fashion

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Pierson's Johnny Chisholm is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run against Smithtown Christian on Tuesday.

Pierson’s Johnny Chisholm is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run against Smithtown Christian on Tuesday.

By Gavin Menu

Freshman James Sherry sparked a late-inning rally and the Pierson baseball team rebounded from a challenging start to the season with a dramatic walk-off win over visiting Smithtown Christian on Tuesday afternoon.

Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Sherry roped a double to the outfield fence for his fourth hit of the game. The game was tied moments later when Sherry came home to score after a pick-off attempt at third base sailed into left field.

Johnny Chisholm followed with a walk and Smithtown Christian starter Jack Palma, a senior who had been dominant all afternoon, was pulled from the game. Jimmy Seviour, a hard-throwing freshman, came on in relief but walked two more batters, including Tim Markowski, whose game-winning RBI scored Chisholm and sparked a wild and unexpected celebration at home plate.

“We’ve been close in a lot of games, but things haven’t been going our way,” said head coach Jon Tortorella, referencing the team’s slow start in non-league competition, which included losses to Southampton, Westhampton and East Hampton. “I know it wasn’t conventional, but they kept fighting. [Smithtown Christian] is a very good team and a win against them is a big win.”

The bad news came later on Wednesday when word came back that Markowski had actually broken his hand earlier in the game, even telling Tortorella moments after his game-winning walk that he likely would not  have been able to swing the bat even if he had been given the chance.

Tortorella said Markowski will miss at least the next month of action as a result of the injury.

Playing at East Hampton on Friday, the Whalers lost, 3-1, to drop to 1-3 in non-league play. Then, as fate had it, Tuesday’s league opener came against Smithtown Christian, which was one of only two teams to beat Pierson all of last year.

But there was a sense following Tuesday’s victory that a new journey had begun for this particular group of Whalers, one that will continue today, April 3, with the second game of a three-game series against Smithtown Christian at 4:30 p.m. The remainder of the series, which will be the last between the teams this season, will be played on the Crusaders’ home field, and whoever wins twice will have an early leg up in the hunt for a League IX title.

“There’s no driver seat right now,” Tortorella said when asked what a win in the series would mean for his program. “We have to play for Thursday, and that’s it. There’s a long way to go.”

Prior to arriving in Sag Harbor, the Crusaders this season beat Center Moriches and Comsewogue, two good teams from much larger schools. Adding to the challenge for Pierson on Tuesday was Palma, the Crusaders’ ace pitcher, whose unorthodox delivery kept hitters off balance for much of the afternoon. Going into the final inning, Palma had recorded six strikeouts while allowing just five hits and a single run scored by Aaron Schiavoni off a sacrifice fly by Nick Kruel in the fourth inning.

But after giving up the double to Sherry and the walk to Chisholm in the bottom of the seventh, Palma left with a one-run lead and responsibility for both the tying and winning runs on base. Seviour, the freshman reliever, was unable to find the strike zone and the Crusaders left Sag Harbor with an all-too familiar result.

Kruel, who will start game three of the series, picked up the win for Pierson after tossing two scoreless innings of relief for starter Forrest Loesch.

Whalers pitcher Nick Kruel.

Whalers pitcher Nick Kruel.

“Forrest gave us some really good innings, and Nick battled and  got us through those last two innings,” Tortorella said. “He made some big pitches when he had to.”

When asked about Sherry’s performance on Tuesday, Pierson’s head coach couldn’t help but use the word “awesome” over and over again.

“He was awesome today,” Tortorella said about his freshman outfielder, who also plays shortstop when Loesch is on the mound and will replace Markowski as the team’s number three starter for the time being. “He’s gotten better everyday and he’s getting more and more confident.

“He’s still only a freshman,” Tortorella added, “but he’s really starting to feel comfortable about himself.”

Pierson's Johnny Chisholm, who scored the winning run on Tuesday, puts the ball in play against Smithtown Christian.

Pierson’s Johnny Chisholm, who scored the winning run on Tuesday, puts the ball in play against Smithtown Christian.

Bridgehampton Lives to Fight Another Day

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Bridgehampton will play at Greenport in a Suffolk County Class D semifinal on Wednesday, February 12 at 6 p.m.

Bridgehampton will play at Greenport in a Suffolk County Class D semifinal on Wednesday, February 12 at 6 p.m.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

The Suffolk County Class D playoffs were scheduled to begin last night, February 12, with a veritable frenzy of competition compared to years past as four teams including Greenport, Smithtown Christian, Shelter Island and Bridgehampton kicked off the 2014 boys basketball postseason.

The top-seeded Porters were scheduled to host Bridgehampton last night in a game that occurred too late for this edition. The Killer Bees successfully petitioned Section XI, the county’s governing body of athletics, for a berth despite finishing the regular-season with a sub-.500 record against League VIII competition.

Coverage from last night’s game is available at sagharboronline.com. The winner will have advanced to play either Smithtown Christian or Shelter Island for the Class D Championships at Longwood High School at noon on Saturday.

In recent years, only two Class D schools have faced off for the county championship. But parity ruled the ranks this season, with Greenport, Smithtown Christian and Shelter Island all finishing with 8-8 records in league play. Bridgehampton finished 7-9, but was 5-3 against Class D schools, which was the determining factor in Section XI’s decision to let the Bees compete.

“Right now, we’re all the same, and anyone can beat anyone on any given night,” head coach Carl Johnson said on Monday after the Section XI brackets were announced. “Whoever is playing and executing the best is going to win the game.”

Bridgehampton had a chance to stamp its own ticket to the postseason last week, but suffered a 68-64 loss to Greenport at home on Thursday, February 6. The Bees led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but Greenport’s Angel Colon emerged from halftime on fire, scoring 10 straight points to trim Bridgehampton’s lead to 40-37 in a matter of minutes.

Foul trouble was a major factor all night as well, with both Josh Lamison and Tylik Furman, Bridgehampton’s top two players, fouling out in the fourth quarter. The Bees have a short bench and regularly play their starting five the distance when foul trouble is not a factor.

Furman finished with 25 points against Greenport, while Lamison had 19.

“We’re going to have to re-think our strategy, and try to keep the game close while they’re on the bench with foul trouble,” Johnson said on Monday.

Gavin Dibble, who also fouled out in the fourth quarter, led Greenport with 25 points while Colon finished with 16.

The Killer Bees’ role players, including Henry Kotz, Kevin Feliciano, Matt Hochstedler and Max Cheng, played hard down the stretch alongside regular starters Anaje Lamb and Jerome Walker, but the team lacked the offensive firepower to hold a three-point lead when Furman joined Lamison on the bench with 5:04 remaining. Greenport closed out the game with a 9-0 run.

The Bees finished the regular season with a 53-30 win over Knox on Friday.

Whalers Soccer Earns Tough Draw for Playoffs

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By Gavin Menu

This might be a déjà vu the Whalers would rather soon forget.

The Pierson-Bridgehampton boys soccer team closed out the regular season Tuesday with a 1-0 home loss to undefeated Port Jefferson and will now play the defending New York State champion Royals for a second straight time in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class C playoffs on Halloween afternoon on Port Jeff’s home turf.

Talk about a scary stretch of back-to-back games.

“It’s a form of punishment for all the evil things we have done,” Whalers head coach Peter Solow joked before Tuesday’s game.

Solow quickly turned more serious, though, and said the Whalers will need to play a near perfect game to upset the Royals (11-0), the regular season League VIII champions who are widely regarded as the best team in the county regardless of classification. The Royals are stacked from top to bottom, Solow said, with All-State talent in seniors Vincent Antonelli and Blake Bohlen leading a potent line-up that returned in its entirety from last year.

“We have no control of who they are or what they do on the field,” Solow said. “But we can control how we play, and no matter who we’re playing now, we have to play extremely well in order to win.”

The Whalers did play well for much of the game on Tuesday and had several scoring chances early in the first half. But Port Jeff’s methodical attack eventually paid off with a goal off a corner by Gerard Racanelli with 24 minutes left in the game.

Solow had been hoping that Pierson would finish the regular season as the third seed in a four-team playoff bracket, but instead the Whalers, who finished with a 6-5-1 record in league play, lost, 3-0, at Greenport on Saturday to lose grip on the third playoff position. Greenport will play at second-seeded Southold in Wednesday’s other semifinal game.

“We didn’t play smart and we were outplayed,” Solow said when asked about the game against Greenport. “We had four or five incredible opportunities early, but we didn’t put the ball on goal.”

Pierson’s seniors, who include stalwarts Christian Bautista, Jackson Marienfeld and Giordan Zeas as well as Christian Figueroa, Alex Gurvich, Aditya Nugraha and Omar Reyes, played their final game at Mashashimuet Park on Tuesday and will have at least one more chance to leave a lasting legacy on Whalers soccer.

“We want to go out and play the best game we can,” Solow said bluntly. “We want their last game to be something they’re proud of.”

Wednesday’s game at Port Jefferson is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

 

Girls Season Comes to an End

 

The Pierson-Bridgehampton girls soccer team suffered a disappointing end to its season with three straight losses that knocked the Lady Whalers from playoff contention.

After a 4-2 win over Ross on October 15, the Lady Whalers needed two wins in their last three games to gain a playoff spot, but fell, 4-2, to Stony Brook on October 19 to set up must-win situations in their final two games. Those victories proved, elusive, however, as Pierson lost, 6-1, to Port Jefferson on October 19 before closing out the year with a 1-0 loss to Smithtown Christian on Monday.

Pierson, which finished with an overall record of 4-8-2, played well during stretches of the season behind a senior class that included co-captains Sophie Gianis and goalie Julia Schiavoni. In addition to Gianis and Schiavoni, Sarah Arbia, Lindsay Cox, Vanessa Cruz, Elizabeth Grigonis and Sara Hartman all played their last game this week for the Lady Whalers.

 

Whalers Fall in Long Island C Final

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web Whalers-ERockaway Reg Semifinal Basketball 3-6-12_4489

In their search for a Long Island Class C Championship, the Pierson Whalers boys varsity basketball team came within just one game. Faced with the tough interior game and up-tempo style of play of the East Rockaway Rocks, Pierson fell in a landslide, 63-25, loss.

This game, played on the night of Tuesday, March 6 at the campus of SUNY Farmingdale, pitted the Whalers, the Suffolk County Class C Champions, with their Nassau County equivalents, the East Rockaway Rocks. With a win, either team would have the honor of hanging a Long Island Championship patch in their gym and also move on to the next round of New York State Class C playoffs.

Pierson began the game competitively going shot for shot with East Rockaway in the first quarter. Up 10-8 in the middle of the first quarter, the Whalers’ intensity wavered and they began to fall behind.

In the second half the Rocks were all over the Whalers, forcing turnovers and marching the ball to Pierson’s basket. A 24-0 run in the first half by the Rocks took the wind out of the Whalers’ sails early. By the end of the half Pierson was down 38-18.

The Rocks didn’t let up in the second half, closing down the Whalers half court offense, while simultaneously running up the score on the outclassed Whalers. The Whalers only scored 5 points in the second half.

The Whalers were never able to find their shot in the game, only shooting 29.6 percent from the field.

Starting shooting guard Joe Butts led the Whalers in scoring with 10 points; he went 3-3 from the three-point arc. Forrest Loesch finished with 4 points, Sam Miller had 3 points, Jackson Marienfeld had 3 points, Jake Bennett had 3 points, Pat Sloane had 2 points, and Kurt Ryder had 2 points.

Whalers’ Tough Start

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By Jacob Sisson

It has been a tough season thus far for the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers boys’ basketball team, having endured four losses in their first four games of the 2010-2011 season. The Whalers ended 2010 0-1 in Suffolk County league eight play and 0-4 overall, having dropped their only league matchup to Southold, as well as two non-league matchups to East Hampton and one to Hampton Bays.

Despite the tough start to the season, Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Dan White is still optimistic about his team’s chances at a playoff berth. Making the playoffs this year will be quite the accomplishment for the first-year coach, after the Whalers finished the 2009-2010 season with a 2-16 record.
“When you go 2-16 the previous year and then all of a sudden you’re in a position to win games, it’s a totally different mentality. We’re trying to get through that and when we do, we can do some damage.”

“Our goals are still intact. Our goal has been to make the playoffs and that’s still the goal. We’re better right now than where we started. We have proved we can play with good teams. The team still has their goal and they still believe in it.”

Pierson/Bridgehampton’s season started with a pair of tough games against East Hampton (3-5, 0-2), and it was clear that while the wins didn’t come, the Whalers were finding their identity as a team. The Whalers kept the scoreline manageable at 44-33 in the teams’ first meeting, then pushed into overtime in their second, dropping the second contest 53-51. The second East Hampton game on December 12 provided coach White with his first real insight into what the Whalers need to do to run with the league’s elite.

“In that East Hampton game, the guys got out to a lead and started to think: ‘oh my gosh, we can win this!’ But then, all of a sudden, they get nervous. Instead of trying to keep all the doors open, they get nervous. They’ve got to understand that when you’re in a position to win, you have to really put the nail in the coffin, but that’s a learning experience.”

White does know that there are things the Whalers are doing well and things the Whalers can work on to improve their playoff chances.

“When we make a commitment to get the ball inside, and when we make a commitment to playing good half court defense, that’s what we hang our hat on. Whenever we get away from that we start to struggle a bit. We’ve also got to become better at taking care of the ball and doing a better job of looking out for each other on the weak side. We need to do a better job, too, of playing for each other on offense. We’ve started to do it, but we have to do it all the time.” White points to four individuals who have really carried the team when it comes to production and leadership.

“Seamus Doyle, Skyler Loesch, Jake Weingartner and Patrick Sloane have stepped up as far as scoring, being leaders and playing the majority of our minutes. They’ve also been really good on defense. We’ve really been relying on them.”

“Jake Weingartner has come back and been really important for me this year. He didn’t play last year, but played varsity as a Sophomore, so I wasn’t sure how he was going to fit in. He’s a smart kid and he knows the game of basketball and he’s been great.”

Despite two stinging losses to close out 2010, confidence in the Whalers’ camp is still high. Though it won’t show up on the score sheet, the Whalers took home a scrimmage victory against Sayville, which has given the team vital momentum ahead of their first games of the new year.

“We went to Sayville and got a win in the scrimmage. On top of that, we had a really good week of practice. We may face our toughest games coming right out of the break, but I think we’re ready.”

“We’ve got Greenport, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson coming up. Those are the three best teams in the league, so that’s going to be a difficult run for us. We’ll be competitive if we do the things we need to do. We’re going to have to do some damage against some of the lesser teams in the league to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs.”

The Whalers get their season back underway on Friday with a league eight matchup against Greenport (5-0, 2-0). Greenport’s two league eight victories came against Bridgehampton (0-5, 0-1) – a 66-34 blowout on December 15 – and against Southold (3-3, 1-1) – a 61-54 victory on Tuesday.

Pierson/Bridgehampton will need to work hard to stop Greenport’s Dantre Langhorne, who scored 27 points each in his last two games and hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points once this season.