One day both Pierson’s boys and girls basketball teams were basking in the glow of success, having achieved their primary goal: a berth in the Suffolk County playoffs, which offers a road to the state tournament and ultimately a state championship.
Both awaited the next step, and it was a rarity: a doubleheader, with both teams playing their opening games the same day at home on February 14.
And, just like that, the season was over. First, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers were upset by Stony Brook 47-44. (See separate story.) The next game the boys team, favored to beat Port Jefferson, and was eliminated 43-32.
The boys had an excuse. Will Martin, the team’s top scorer, was out with a torn ACL, and Martin provides the firepower the team needs to run on. The senior, who went over the 1000-point career mark last month, is a relentless and energetic machine, pressing the action on both sides of the floor.
The Whalers struggled without him, though give the Royals credit: Port Jeff played a hustling defense that left Pierson struggling to run a coordinated offense. After hanging in for most of the first stanza the Whalers went stone cold, tallying a single point from that point until halftime.
Port Jefferson wasn’t exactly scorching the threads either, but the double-digit lead proved insurmountable since the home team lacked the offensive power to make a charge.
E.J. Burke and Henry Brooks each scored 10 for Pierson. The team finished with an 11-10 overall record and went 10-3 in League VIII.
The giddy Royals, 8-12 overall but only 1-9 in League VII, mounted a spirited celebration at the final buzzer, but it proved a Pyrrhic victory—waiting in the wings was Greenport and the Suffolk Class C title game, once again played at Suffolk Community College’s Selden Campus on Friday.
The Porters were motivated on two fronts: not only were they still smarting from last year’s upset to Stony Brook in the finale, but also by the perception that this team is destined for more than just a county title—this team has the look of a state title contender. And now they’ll get their chance to go upstate. The Porters dispensed the Bears with ruthless efficiency, 71-41, and now await the NYS Class C playoff seedings to find out who’s next. They are 19-2 on the season and they won the League VIII title with an undefeated record.
It was over early: Greenport is a deep and talented team, but there is a special player here: the sophomore Ahkee Anderson, an honor student off the court and the undisputed leader of the team on the floor. He took off early, scoring nine points and dishing out for several more scores as the locals opened a 25-9 win. Anderson, a legitimate Suffolk Small Schools Player of the Year candidate, took the foot off the pedal at that point and finished with 21 points and nine assists.
It’s by no means a one-man team, however. Julian Swann, a six-foot, four-inch bruiser, controls the paint and the boards. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds on the night. The locals employ three starting guards, and all of them can burn: Jordan Fonseca had 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Greenport and Jaxan Swann added seven assists and three steals. Jaxan Swann is the only senior of the group, so there are a lot more wins in the bag before this squad is finished.
Alas, the season is over for two other local teams. East Hampton lost a heartbreaker to Glenn 92-89 in triple overtime on February 14 in the opening round of the Suffolk Class A playoff, Southampton was eliminated by Amityville, another Suffolk team with state title aspirations, on Friday.