Lady Whalers clinch playoff berth

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The Lady Whalers girls basketball team clinched a playoff berth with a 61-48 League VIII win over Shelter Island in Sag Harbor on Friday.

Shelter Island was competitive through the first half thanks to excellent shooting, but Lady Whalers head coach Dennis Case changed up his defensive plan and Pierson came back to dominate the second half and pull out the win.

Lady Indian Callie Starzie nailed two three-pointers early in the first period to give Shelter Island an early seven-point lead. The Lady Indians took a 16-12 lead at the quarter, but Pierson battled back and took the lead 32-30 late in the first half. At the buzzer Shelter Island’s Katrina Kaasik scored a devastating three-point shot, and the Lady Indians took a 33-32 lead into intermission.

“Those two girls from Shelter Island were lights out,” Case said, noting Kaasik and Starzie’s shooting prowess. “We changed our defense,” he said, explaining that Pierson switched from a zone defense and more aggressively covered the dominant Lady Indians players.

“Then we shut them down,” Case said. “We totally shut them down.”

Shelter Island only scored 15 points in the second half to Pierson’s 29 points, as the Lady Whalers finished with their highest score of the season.

“We’ve been scoring a lot more points lately,” Case said, noting that the win against Shelter Island was his team’s fourth this season. The Lady Whalers are 4-1 in League VIII.

“My team has been playing really well,” he said. “I’m really happy with them.”

Senior Katie Osiecki led the Lady Whalers with a game-high 22 points, followed by sophomore Samantha James with 16 points and senior Ala Pinckney with 10 points, including two three-pointers.

Kaasik led the Lady Indians with 17 points, while Starzie and Katie McGayhey scored 10 points each.

The Lady Whalers will visit Mercy at 7 p.m. on Friday, and they are scheduled to visit Southold at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 5. Pierson will host Stony Brook at 6:15 p.m. on February 9.

Pierson defeated Mercy 52-22 at home on January 6 and eked out a 51-48 win over Southold at home on January 12. If the Lady Whalers repeat against both teams, they will face Stony Brook in the Suffolk County Class C championship, Case said.

The Lady Bears, who are undefeated and lead the league, beat Pierson 57-38 on January 14.

“We could beat them,” Case said, looking ahead to a possible playoff game against Stony Brook. “It’s got to be our A game.”

He said that the while the Lady Bears are the better shooting team, it’s still possible that Pierson could be county champ.

“Right now we’re in the driver’s seat,” Case said.

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