Winning 12 in a row? Sweet. Taking on the best small school on Long Island and coming home with a victory? Sweeter still. Staring down the barrel of a state title run? Scary – but sweet.
It’s all a box of chocolates for Pierson/Bridgehampton, the little Class C team that could. Certainly knocking defending Long Island Class B champion Mattituck out of first place in League VI is rarified air indeed — And doing it on the loser’s court is unheard of.
The January 14 game was wrought with tension: both teams with perfect 7-0 League VI marks were seeking to make a statement. After all, they will likely meet again in the Suffolk Class BC title game for a shot at the Suffolk Small Schools title. It was the visitors marvelously unflappable, who grabbed an early five-point lead and stubbornly clung to it.
As has been the case all season, the combination of point guard Chastin Giles working the perimeter and Katie Kneeland controlling the paint set the tone. On this night Giles had 19 points and eight assists and Kneeland added 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Whalers. The winners clung to a six-point halftime advantage and held clear, repulsing several Mattituck charges, in route to a comfortable 47-38 win.
Jaden Seifert scored 10 points to lead the losers, while Jaden Thompson added 9, and Mackenzie Hoeg had 7 points.
The Lady Tuckers shrugged off the loss, however, traveling to Babylon two nights later and coming away with a 47-33 win. Thompson led a balanced attack with 13 points.
On January 18, playing at home, the Lady Tuckers offered further proof there is no negative residue left from the Pierson disappointment by beating a good Port Jefferson team 58-47, Hoeg scored 14 points and Ashley Perkins and Thompson each had 11. Port Jeff, 7-3, is a Class C school that could give Pierson some trouble come tournament time.
Mattituck gets Southampton at home Wednesday, January 23 (6:15 tipoff), and travels to Smithtown Christian two days later for a 4:15 PM encounter.
As for the Whalers, it was business as usual. Pierson crushed Hampton Bays 52-18 on January 16 at home and then annihilated Center Moriches 55-12 a day later, a game that saw the Whalers race to a 47-7 lead. Kneeland tallied 19 and Giles wowed with 15 assists. By the way Kneeland went off for 24 against Hampton Bays and is one of the county’s top scorers
averaging 19 points per game.
The Whalers play Babylon at home January 29 at 6:15 pm. Babylon, another Class C team with playoff aspirations, is 7-7 in League V play.