Legendary Sag Harbor Hardwood Revealed

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Robert Ratcliffe and Michael Petrie share stories as they examine the floor of the original Pierson High School basketball court.
Former Pierson Whaler basketball players Jeff Peters, Mike Petrie, Bob Ratcliffe, Tom Bubka, Bob Vishno (head coach), Bruce Winchell, Mike Santacroce, Joe Silvey, Robert Browngardt, Linda Schiavoni and Jack Youngs on the floor of the original Pierson High School basketball court, which was recently discovered and uncovered as part of a renovation of the school's auditorium.
Former Pierson Whaler basketball players Jeff Peters, Mike Petrie, Bob Ratcliffe, Tom Bubka, Bob Vishno (head coach), Bruce Winchell, Mike Santacroce, Joe Silvey, Robert Browngardt, Linda Schiavoni and Jack Youngs on the floor of the original Pierson High School basketball court, which was recently discovered and uncovered as part of a renovation of the school’s auditorium.

The demolition of the current Pierson High School auditorium, which is part of an ongoing capital project in the school district, uncovered the school’s old gym floor, which, according to former players and coaches, was the place to be in basketball-crazed Sag Harbor on Friday nights.

Eric Bramoff, the Sag Harbor School District’s director of athletics and grounds, hosted close to a dozen Pierson alumni and one legendary coach for a tour of the old gym, which was built in 1907. As memories sparked, talks of legend filled what is otherwise an ordinary construction site.

The old court measured 54 feet in length, which is 8 feet shorter than the floor at Bridgehampton High School, the smallest of its kind in Suffolk County that still hosts varsity competition. Regulation basketball courts today are between 84 and 92 feet long.

“If these floors could talk. The length of our court was the width of the new Southampton court, so Ed — Ed Petrie our coach — said ‘We’re going to put the basketball on the other wall so you guys can get the spacing of what it would be like in Southampton.’ We practiced with only a half court leading into that game.” – Former player and 1961 Pierson graduate Jack Youngs

“Eddie and I were six or seven years old. We had the time of our lives in this gym. Nobody was in the building during practice, so we had it all to ourselves.” – Mike Petrie, son of legendary head coach Ed Petrie, who would roam the hallways at Pierson with his brother during practice.

“This was the oldest gym…and one of the best.” – Bob Vishno, former Pierson head basketball coach

“In was 1965, we played the last game in this gym. We played the first game in the new gym. Then the floor warped in the new gym, so we came back over here and finished the season. And then graduated in the new gym. – former player and 1965 Pierson graduate Bob Ratcliffe

“Portions of the floor will be saved and we will work with the superintendent and school board on how to get those pieces out to the community.” – Sag Harbor District Athletic Director Eric Bramoff

Robert Ratcliffe and Michael Petrie share stories as they examine the floor of the original Pierson High School basketball court.
Robert Ratcliffe and Michael Petrie share stories as they examine the floor of the original Pierson High School basketball court.

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