The Killer Bees are a different team than they were in their first meeting with League VIII rival Pierson back on December 11. In that contest, at the Bee Hive, Bridgehampton struggled without starting point guard Tylik Furman, scoring just 41 points in a blowout loss, part of an 0-4 start to the season.
When the teams met up for the second time in Sag Harbor on Saturday, however, fans accustomed to the type of hotly contested games that have defined the rivalry over the years got closer to what they were looking for, as the first-place Whalers had to work much harder for a 70-61 win.
Pierson improved to 8-1 in league play with the win, 8-3 overall, maintaining its standing as the top team in League VIII. Bridgehampton fell to 4-5 in league play, 5-6 overall.
The Whalers got another impressive performance from senior guard Forrest Loesch, who led all scorers with 30 points, including eight three-pointers. Loesch is averaging just over 23 points per game and has been held to single digits just once, scoring seven points in a non-league loss to Shoreham/Wading River. Aside from that, his other lowest-scoring output in a game was 19 points.
Guard Ian Barrett added 12 points and nine assists, while forward Robbie Evjen had 10 points and 12 rebounds, and guard Sean Sloane chipped in nine points.
Pierson head coach Dan White acknowledged that Loesch has been a potent scorer, and said his effort is part of an overall solid team effort on offense.
“Our offense has been clicking and, obviously, Forrest is shooting the ball very well,” White said. “However, he is also creating for others, and the shots he is taking are typically uncontested, which is what we want. Ian Barrett has done an excellent job of creating and getting us organized in the half court as well.”
Despite the lights-out shooting, Pierson still needed to go on a 10-2 run with four minutes left in the game to earn the win. Josh Lamison and Jerome Walker each scored 17 points to lead Bridgehampton, while Lamison added 12 rebounds. Furman scored 14, and Anajae Lamb added eight.
“I was very impressed with Bridgehampton and how much they have improved,” White said. “[Head coach Carl Johnson] has done a fantastic job with that team.”
Poor free-throw shooting was a problem for the Killer Bees, particularly late in the game, and it was the factor that Johnson pointed to for contributing to the loss.
“I thought we played them fairly even, but, once again, what came back to haunt us in the fourth was, we stopped moving the ball and running our offense,” he said. “And we shot 8 for 23 from the free-throw line. That’s the difference in the game right there.”
Bridgehampton held an eight-point lead at one point in the third quarter, but Pierson got back into the game with strong shooting, particularly from the three-point stripe. “That’s the best I’ve seen Forrest shoot in years,” Johnson said. “He was on fire.”
Before facing each other, both teams picked up wins against Ross, with Pierson beating the Cosmos, 53-44, at home on January 14, and Bridgehampton getting past their Class D rival, 86-55, two days later.
Johnson said the Ross win was “the best all-around game we’ve played all season.” The Killer Bees wasted no time establishing their dominance, outscoring Ross, 22-9, in both the first and second quarters. Lamison scored a career-high 33 points to go along with 12 rebounds, while Furman had 20 points and Lamb added 17.
Pierson wasn’t quite as dominant against the Cosmos, needing two three-pointers late in the game from Cooper Marienfeld to give it some breathing room. Loesch led the team with 24 points, while Evjen had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Bridgehampton had one other game earlier in the week, beating winless Knox School, 72-34, at home on January 14. Furman led all scorers with 30 points, while Lamison had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Both White and Johnson feel good about where their teams stand right now and are gearing up for what they hope will be successful playoff runs, Pierson in Class C and the Killer Bees in Class D.
“In the second half of the season, we simply need to try and improve,” White said of his team. “Last year, I felt like we peaked early and it cost us in the playoffs. I am trying to get our team to understand that early success cannot define our season.”
Johnson, meanwhile, said his team’s recent play has been promising.
“I think we have a great chance of making the playoffs, and if we can continue to play the way we can play, we’ll win the ‘D,’” he said.
The Lady Whalers kept a hold on first place in League VIII with a 51-46 win at second-place Port Jefferson on Saturday, moving them to 6-1 in League VIII, 7-6 overall. Pierson was also credited with a win because of a forfeit by Ross, which folded its varsity team this year.
Pierson head coach Kevin Barron said that a strong effort on team defense, particularly in the first half, was a big factor in the win.
“We were able to shut down any kind of interior scoring by Port Jeff the entire game, forcing them to shoot from the outside,” he said. “In the second half, they started to heat up, hitting five three-pointers. We then had to stretch out our defense to keep our lead and contest those shots.”
Guard May Evjen and forward Eilis Sheil came up big in the second half. Evjen scored all of her 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the second half, while Sheil had all 13 of her points in the second half. Sheil was clutch from the free-throw line, hitting all six shots she earned, including four that were key late in the game. Forward Erica Selyukova finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Kasey Gilbride had 10 points, seven rebounds and six steals.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Bridgehampton—Wednesday, 1/22, vs. Stony Brook, 6 p.m.; Friday, 1/24, vs. Smithtown Christian, 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/28, at Stony Brook, 5:30 p.m. Pierson boys—Tuesday, 1/21, at Smithtown Christian, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 1/24, at Stony Brook, 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/28, at Southold, 6:15 p.m. Pierson girls—Wednesday, 1/22, vs. East Hampton (non-league), 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 1/24, at Stony Brook, 7:30 p.m.; Monday, 1/27, vs. Southold/Greenport, 6:15 p.m.