Lady Whalers split non-league games

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The Pierson girls basketball team is off to a good start after splitting a pair of non-league games against opponents from higher leagues. The Lady Whalers put forth a good effort and fell just short in a 57-53 home loss to Miller Place (League VI) on December 3 before beating defending Long Island Class B champion Hampton Bays 48-30 at home on Friday.

Against the Lady Baymen, Pierson took control in the second half by tightening its defense, holding Hampton Bays to just 10 points. Pierson also had a balanced scoring attack with three players in double figures. Senior guard Ala Pinckney led the team with 14 points, while senior forward/guard Katie Osiecki had 13 points and senior forward Gaby Arondel had 11 points.

“We played really, really well,” Pierson head coach Dennis Case said, adding that while Hampton Bays is a different team after the loss of standout players Kelly Cavallo, Sami Krantz and Genna Kovar, he was still proud of the effort. “Without them, they’re a new team, but they’re still a very good program.”

Case added that the presence of both Arondel—who did not play against Miller Place—and sophomore forward Sami James on the boards was key for his team, particularly in the second half.

“Gaby had her best game as a Pierson basketball player,” he said. “She was playing really good defense and getting rebounds. She really turned it up in the second half. We were making nice passes and our offense was clicking on all cylinders.”

Against Miller Place, Osiecki accounted for the lion’s share of the offense for her team during most of the game, keeping Pierson in the hunt with 15 points in the first half. The Lady Whalers were down 24-21 at halftime and faced only a three-point deficit heading into the final quarter, but without Arondel’s presence in the frontcourt, they simply couldn’t close the gap, as Miller Place enjoyed a significant rebounding advantage that led to second-chance points.

“We were a couple of kids short, and we tried to do some different things,” Case said. “They played really hard and played very well, but our defense was not as strong throughout the game.”

Osiecki led all scorers with 26 points, and the Lady Panthers had no answer for her, particularly in the first half when she drove to the basket at will and got to the foul line on several occasions. She was somewhat limited in the second half, however, after picking up her third foul before halftime. Pinckney and Barrett finally got into a scoring groove in the third and fourth quarters and each finished with nine points. Arielle Chase finished with six points and James had three points.

Case was pleased with Barrett’s play in her first varsity game.

“She’s doing a nice job for a rookie,” he said. “She’s learning the game and she’s getting a lot more confident.”

Case also complimented Chase, whom he said played well after taking a year off from basketball last season.

The difference in the loss to the Lady Panthers was ultimately the mismatch in the frontcourt.

“We got beat on the boards,” Case said. “They killed us on the boards. Our guards scored a lot, but Miller Place must have scored 20 points off offensive rebounds.”

The Lady Whalers were scheduled to host Rocky Point (League V) on Wednesday, December 10, and will host Mattituck (League VII) on Friday at 6:15 p.m. They will open up the League VIII slate at Shelter Island on December 19 at 4 p.m. before visiting Longwood (League I) on December 22 at 5:45 p.m.

Pierson’s non-league schedule certainly doesn’t offer any breaks, but so far Case is happy with what he’s seen from his team.

“I’m happy with their attitude and we’re having a lot of fun,” Case said. “A few of them have never played basketball, but they’re great athletes and will get some playing time by the end of the year.”

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