Defense Sets the Tone in Victories for Lady Whalers

Pierson's Chastin Giles drives to the hoop against Center Moriches on December 12. Michael Heller photos

Pierson senior Katie Kneeland returned to the lineup Monday night but it was defense that ruled the day for the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls basketball team in a 47-14 road victory at Hampton Bays.

Kneeland missed the team’s first four games with a fractured wrist but returned on Monday and came off the bench to lead the Lady Whalers with 13 points. The game was a runaway from the opening tip as Pierson jumped out to a 28-2 first-quarter lead.

Following a 51-17 win over Center Moriches at home on December 12, Monday’s victory was the second consecutive game in which Pierson held a league opponent below 20 points.

“Both Center Moriches and Hampton Bays are young teams that are in more of a rebuild phase,” Pierson head coach Kevin Barron said later. “We can’t get comfortable. We have to focus on what we need to do in each game.”

In Kneeland’s absence, the Lady Whalers have developed a deep bench and the team has players like Carly Browngardt, Phoebe Arkinson and Sofia Mancino who proved themselves as important pieces in the absence of Pierson’s senior leader. Barron can’t remember the last time Pierson’s roster was this deep.

Phoebe Arkinson drives to the basket.

“There’s going to be a competition for minutes, which is a good thing,” Barron said. “The girls have adapted well and the have stepped up. Phoebe has been filling in nicely at a position she normally doesn’t play, and Sofia Mancino has shown us that she can compete to be in that starting lineup. As much as people focus on who starts, it really doesn’t matter on our team.”

Junior point guard Chastin Giles, of course, has her role in the starting lineup solidified and led Pierson with 13 points against Center Moriches, along with six steals, and had 11 points on Monday against Hampton Bays. For the second consecutive game, Browngardt had eight points to support Pierson’s top two scorers and Celia Barranco poured in 10 in the win over Center Moriches.

As for Kneeland, Barron said she looked fast on the court against Hampton Bays and after missing her first few shots, cut to the hoops and scored on some shots closer to the basket before she also knocked down a couple of her trademark jump shots. “She seemed to relax as the game went on,” Barron said.

Pierson will play a Brooklyn private school named Bishop Kearney in the Hoops 2 Remember holiday invitational at Robert Moses Middle School on Saturday, December 22, with game time expected around 4 p.m. The girls will get back to league action with two straight road games at Port Jefferson on January 2 and at Babylon on January 4, followed by their return home for a game against Southampton on January 7 at 6:15 p.m.