Both the Pierson boys and girls basketball teams lost some key players to graduation but bring back talented veterans as well, and the squads will see if they can continue the successes they had last year, while adding new players to the mix. The Lady Whalers enter the season as the defending Suffolk County Class C champions, while the boys advanced to last year’s county ‘C’ final, where they lost to Stony Brook.
The good news for Pierson head coach Kevin Barron is that he has plenty of depth, with 17 players on the roster. The bad news is that many of them are inexperienced and young, with six sophomores, eight juniors and just three seniors. The Lady Whalers lost seven seniors from their county championship squad, including point guard Kasey Gilbride, guard/forward Eilis Sheil, guard May Evjen and forward Bridget Canavan. Gilbride, Sheil and Canavan were All-League players, while Evjen was an Academic All-County player. Gilbride and Canavan led the team in scoring.
Pierson has a strong returning player in junior center Erica Selyukova, who can be a dominant player in the middle both offensively and defensively. She led the team in rebounding last year and will need to increase her output on offense this season. She’ll be joined in the frontcourt by junior Arlena Burns. Zoe Diskin, a senior, and Isabel Peters, a sophomore, will bolster the backcourt. Barron said he also expects contributions from Lily Kot in the frontcourt and Nia Dawson and Fallon O’Brien in the backcourt.
Barron said his team should be strong as a defensive unit, and use its collective athleticism to cause problems for its opponents.
“We are extremely athletic and have a tremendous amount of speed,” he said. “We will use that speed to play pressure defense and have an up-tempo offense.”
Within League VIII, Barron said he expects Port Jefferson and Mercy to be strong. Aside from Pierson, Stony Brook is the only other Class C school in the county, which means they could see each other in the playoffs.
The Lady Whalers will open the season at Westhampton Beach for a 4:30 p.m. non-league game on December 3.
Pierson lost two dynamic players to graduation in guards Forrest Loesch and Ian Barrett. Loesch was the team’s leading scorer, capable of putting up more than 20 points per game, and on some occasions, more than 30, while Barrett was a solid ballhandler with the ability to drive to the basket. Pierson also lost guards Cooper Marienfeld, Micah Hemby and Garrett Potter, along with guard/forward Drew Harvey.
The Whalers bring back two strong players, however, in guard Sean Sloane, a sophomore who showed a lot of potential last season, along with Robbie Evjen, a strong player up front who led the team with 13 rebounds per game. Those returning starters will be joined by guards Andrew Roberts, Andrew James, Rojuan Patterson and Stephen Musnicki as well as forwards Keith Ellis, Jack Schleicher and Ben Kushner.
Pierson head coach Dan White said his team plays well together as a unit and is unselfish, but added that overcoming its collective youth and inexperience will be a challenge. White expects defending county champ Stony Brook to be strong again in League VIII, as well as Southold and Bridgehampton.
Pierson will open the season at East Hampton in the Kendall Madison Tip-Off Classic on December 5 and 6. The Whalers will play East Hampton on Friday night at 6:15 p.m., and the consolation and championship games will be held the next day. Mattituck and Westhampton Beach are also in the tournament.