In the five years that Pierson boys basketball head coach Dan White has been at the helm, the Whalers have been a consistently strong team, making the Class C playoffs every year, winning one county title, and proving themselves as one of the more solid teams in League VIII.
This year should be no different as White enters his sixth season.
While Pierson lost three strong players to graduation in forwards Robbie Evjen and Ben Kushner and guard Keith Ellis, they bring back plenty of talent as well. The Whalers finished third in League VIII last year with a 9-5 record, 10-8 overall, behind Bridgehampton (14-0, 17-1) and Stony Brook (11-3, 12-4).
Pierson will have questions to answer in the frontcourt, as both Evjen and Kushner were in the top three on the team in both scoring and rebounding. But the Whalers bring back junior guard Sean Sloane, an All-League player last season who was in the top three on the team in points and assists.
The Whalers also bring back All-League Honorable Mention forward Stephen Musnicki, a senior, as well as seniors Andrew James, Andrew Robers, Jack Schleicher and Rojuan Patterson.
White will look for contributions from three JV call-ups as well—sophomore Will Martin, and juniors Spencer Chase and Angelo Toscano. Martin and Chase led the JV in scoring last year, while Toscano is athletic and should give Pierson added strength on defense.
Pierson will look to make its seventh straight playoff appearance, and will have its sights on the county title. The Whalers lost in the county final by three points last year to Stony Brook. White said he expects the Bears to be strong again, along with Class D teams Bridgehampton and Shelter Island. Bridgehampton is the defending New York State Class D champion and did not lose any players to graduation, although the Killer Bees did lose their leading scorer, Charles Manning Jr., who transferred to Long Island Lutheran for his senior season. The Bees will still be a formidable squad, however, with standout guard Tylik Furman and standout forward Josh Lamison returning as the most formidable one-two punch in the league. White added he expects Class C teams Greenport and Southold to be stronger this year, and is unsure what Port Jefferson, another ‘C’ school, will bring to the table as the Royals played in League VII last year.
“I expect to be competitive on a consistent basis,” White said. “I’m excited to coach this team because I believe we have the type of athletes that can play a variety of ways. They’re excellent kids who have a passion to play basketball and to improve as a group.”
Pierson will open the season with a tournament at East Hampton High School on December 4 and 5.