The tradition continues.
For the third year in a row, the Pierson and Stony Brook boys basketball teams will battle for the Suffolk County Class C championship, extending what has become a serious rivalry.
Pierson beat the Ross School, 60-52, on the road Friday, and got past winless Knox, 61-35, at home a day earlier to finish the regular season with a 13-3 record, 13-5 overall—good enough for second place in League VIII. The Bears, meanwhile, finished the season with a 15-1 mark, 16-1 overall, to win the league title. Pierson is the only team to beat Stony Brook this season.
Stony Brook earned the top seed in the two-team Class C bracket and will face second seed Pierson for the county title at Longwood High School at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The winner will move on to face the Nassau County Class C champ for the Long Island Championship on March 4 at Farmingdale State College at 5 p.m.
Stony Brook is the defending county champion, having beat Pierson last season, but the Whalers took down the Bears with a buzzer-beating three-pointer by current senior Forrest Loesch to win the county title a year before that.
In the first meeting of this season, in Sag Harbor, the Whalers looked sharp in a 66-58 win on December 18, with Loesch going for 36 points. In the second meeting, however, the Bears held Loesch to just four points in a 56-34 triumph.
Pierson head coach Dan White said his team will need to replicate the effort from the first game if it wants to reclaim the county crown from the Bears.
“They are a very talented team,” he said. “I expect us to play hard and to execute. We must do the little things correctly in order to succeed.”
In the win over Ross, Pierson overcame a slow start to pull away for the win. The Whalers outscored Ross, 18-2, in the second quarter, overcoming a five-point first-quarter deficit. Forward Robbie Evjen had a great night, finishing with a career-high 30 points, as well as 18 rebounds.
White said he was pleased with Evjen’s effort. “Robbie had his best game to date,” he said. “He did not miss a free throw and was superb around the rim. This is not only exciting for now, but for next year as well. I am hoping he continues to improve off this performance.”
Loesch added 17 points and had eight assists, while Sean Sloane had nine points, and Ian Barrett added eight.
Against Knox, White played his seniors for most of the game, as it was his team’s Senior Night. Micah Hemby had 17 points, including five three-pointers, while Loesch also added 17.
The Pierson girls basketball team likewise is headed directly to the Suffolk County Class C championship game as one of just two Class C teams in the county to qualify for the playoffs.
The top-seeded Lady Whalers, who won the League VIII regular season title with a 9-1 record, 12-6 overall, will face second seed Southold (5-5, 5-12) on Tuesday, February 18, at Northport High School at 2 p.m. Southold is the only team that beat Pierson in league play this year, although the Lady Whalers got revenge with a 54-38 win on January 27.
Pierson head coach Kevin Barron said there are several things his team will need to do in order to secure what would be the first county title for the Lady Whalers in more than 10 years. “Southold has the ability to put up a lot of points,” he said. “In order to win, we will have to play with the same defensive intensity we had the last time we played them. We forced turnovers and made every shot they took a difficult one. Winning the rebound battle underneath will be another key to a victory. We cannot allow any second-shot attempts. On offense, the focus has to be not to turn over the ball and be patient.”
Pierson beat Wyandanch, 52-46, in a non-league road game in its only action last week. The Lady Whalers never trailed in the game, and led by 18 at one point.
Seven different players scored for Pierson, led by forward Bridget Canavan with 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Forward Erica Selyukova had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while guard Kasey Gilbride had seven points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals. Sol Varela added eight points, five rebounds and two assists.