East End fans could get a chance to see three local boys basketball teams Saturday at Longwood High School. The Class D championship game is scheduled for noon, to be followed by the Class C title game between Pierson and Stony Brook at 2:30.
The Whalers (13-3) split with the League VIII-champion Brooksters (15-1) during the regular season, winning 66-58 on Dec. 18 and losing 56-34 on Jan. 24, a loss that Pierson’s coach, Dan White, said resulted from his failure to counter the diamond-and-one defense Stony Brook used, the effect of which was to take Forrest Loesch, the Whalers’ high-scorer, who finished with 4 points, out of the game.
“We didn’t screen well enough on offense and our defense was weak,” White said at the time. “After watching the film, we saw we missed a lot of opportunities to score and a lot of things we didn’t do defensively. I pointed those things out to the kids. We’ll be prepared for Stony Brook come the playoffs.”
Pierson’s league-champion girls team, coached by Kevin Barron, are to play Southold-Greenport for the county Class C championship at Northport High School Tuesday at 2 p.m. The last time out, the Whalers, who ended the season at 9-1, bested the Settlers (5-5) at home 54-38.
Bridgehampton, which finished league play with a 7-9 record, made it into the playoffs by the skin of its teeth, by virtue of a 5-4 record vis-a-vis League VIII’s other D teams.
Smithtown Christian, Greenport, and Shelter Island all ended the regular season with 8-8 league records, giving credence to the Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson’s comment following a 49-47 loss at Shelter Island on Feb. 4 that any of these teams were capable of beating each other on any given night.
Greenport defeated the Bees 68-65 at the Beehive last Thursday, a loss largely attributable presumably to the fact that Bridgehampton’s two best players, Josh Lamison and Tylik Furman, fouled out with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bees have also been hurt by the fact that Elijah Jackson, a promising freshman forward, has been sidelined by a hairline foot fracture. Johnson and his assistants, Joe Zucker and Kevin McConville, are hoping that he’ll be ready to play again should the Bees advance to the state tournament.
Shelter Island, whose wins over the Bees can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and whose glory years of 1957-58 and ’68-69 were followed by an arguably historic 77-game losing streak, reportedly has never won a county championship. The Indians lost 53-40 to Bridgehampton in last year’s county Class D championship game.
“[Jason] Hopson killed us in that one,” said Jim Culligan, who’s been assisting S.I.’s head coach, Mike Mundy, for the past several years.
The Indians took it to the Bees from the get-go in the game there on Feb. 4, breaking the visitors’ press with ease on the way to a 16-4 lead midway through the first quarter, at which point Johnson called for a timeout.
When play resumed, the Bees began to get back into the game, though trailing 16-10 in the period’s final seconds they came up empty on four successive tries, two of them from beyond the arc.
By halftime, the home team led 27-22, and was able to kick the margin back up to 12, at 40-28, with 2:13 left in the third thanks to Tristan Wissemann’s follow of a missed 3 by Sawyer Clark.
But the Bees, with Furman and Lamison leading the way, again battled back. A 3-point play by Lamison pared Shelter Island’s lead to 5 when the fourth began, and then a coast-to-coast layup by Furman after he’d stolen the ball from Riley Willumsen made it 40-37.
With two minutes to go, and the Bees again down by 5, Lamison blocked a shot by Matt Belt Cappellino, after which Furman made another basket, for 48-45. Furman’s follow of a missed 3 by Jerome Walker pulled the Bees to 48-47 with 20.8 seconds left.
Lamison fouled Matt Dunning as he dashed toward the hoop following a Shelter Island inbounds play. Dunning made his first free throw, for 49-47. Furman, as the clock was running down, put up a one-hander in the lane that didn’t drop, leaving Lamison and Willumsen to contend for the rebound, a struggle that resulted in Shelter Island’s successfully inbounding the ball as time ran out.