The Bees may be back, but the Whalers are too, and so it was that in the county C-D boys basketball game at Farmingdale State on Feb. 22, Sag Harbor’s players took the measure of their Bridgehampton counterparts by a score of 57-41.
The outcome, however, was moot insofar as the state tournament was concerned. Both teams had already made it by virtue of county championship wins — the Class D Bees over Greenport and the Class C Whalers over Stony Brook. Yet Pierson will have to scale one more hurdle — on Tuesday at Farmingdale State, where it is to meet East Rockaway — before the Whalers can join Bridgehampton in Southeast Regional competition at the State University at New Paltz on March 10, the Bees having been granted a pass because there are no Class D schools in Nassau County.
The Whalers were to go on to lose 68-36 Friday to a full-court-pressing Center Moriches team in the county B-C-D game, a contest that Pierson’s coach, Dan White, said he hoped would help prepare his charges for the state tourney.
Last week’s clash between the Killer Bees and Whalers was the third of the season for the South Fork schools, who played in League VIII, the Whalers having won both regular-season games by comfortable margins.
Before it began, Joe Zucker, who assists Carl Johnson in coaching Bridgehampton, said, with a smile, “I don’t know, we just seem to struggle against them. Greenport clobbered them in one of their games and Ross waxed them in one of theirs, but we can’t seem to beat them. . . . Pierson outhustled us in the first two games. It will come down to who executes the best and who wants it the most.”
It was Pierson that turned out to have more desire that day, as evidenced by its energetic man-for-man defense that only Caanan Campbell, the Bees’ 6-foot-5-inch star, who finished with 21 points, could withstand, and by its swift ball movement at the other end of the court, which frequently found the open man.
The teams played toe-to-toe throughout the first one and a half quarters, though, at that point, the Whalers began to pull away a bit thanks to two foul shots by Patrick Sloane, a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Jackson Marienfeld after Sloane had picked Jason Hopson’s pocket, and a basket by Sloane, who was fed by Forrest Loesch — the sophomore hero of the Whalers’ 36-35 Class C semifinal win over Port Jefferson and the 34-32 win over Stony Brook in the Class C championship game.
The hero role this time, however, fell to Joey Butts, a hard-working 5-7 junior guard who was to finish with a team-high 17 points. A coast-to-coast layup of his after he’d stolen the ball from Hopson got the third quarter going and increased Pierson’s lead to 13. A 3-pointer of his in the final two minutes of the third period extended the Whalers’ lead to 45-27, and back-to-back fast-break layups by him, driving the margin up to 17, earned Butts and his fellow starters seats on the bench, and applause, as their coach brought on the subs.
Butts, as aforesaid, finished with 17 points. Sloane had 12, and Sam Miller, the senior inside man, had 10 to go with 10 rebounds.