Cooper Schiavoni and Henry Brooks have played basketball together — on the street, in the gym and at the park — since they were little kids. Now they have one last go around as Pierson Whalers with a new season riding on their capable shoulders.
Gone is Will Martin, the school’s latest 1,000-point scorer, who graduated last spring along with E.J. Burke, Sam Warne and Tom Brooks, Henry’s older brother. The team this year will still be competitive, but much more balanced, which is expected when a prolific scorer like Martin moves out of the program.
“We have a nice group of kids and we’re working hard every day,” Pierson head coach Hank Katz said before practicing this week. “We will be competitive and a little more balanced, but I still think most of our point production is going to come from Henry and Cooper, who has become really a tremendous passer and floor leader.”
The team is stacked with talent in the backcourt, where Schiavoni and Brooks will be joined by junior Nick Egbert to form a fast and formidable trio. Harry Cowen, a 6-foot, 3-inch junior, will anchor the frontcourt and will be relied on to replace Burke, who was a force last season when it came to rebounding.
“He does a lot of good things,” Katz said about his new forward. “He’s also very smart.”
Pierce Summers, a junior, returns to the team and will be joined by a strong group of newcomers, most of whom are up from junior varsity, including Habtamu Coulter, Peter Schaefer, Richard Barranco, Matt Hall, Jessup Kunzeman and John Mascali, the team’s only other senior besides Schiavoni.
Pierson will compete in League VII with Southold, Greenport, Ross, Smithtown Christian, Shelter Island and Bridgehampton. The only other Class C schools are Southold and Greenport, with the Porters expected to contend for a state title this season and the obvious favorites to repeat as league champions.
“They have a ton of talent. They could win states this year, they’re that good,” Katz said about Greenport. “But we’re not going to lie down. We’ll do the best we can and work hard to compete.”
The Whalers will open the season with a “non-league” game at Shelter Island on December 1, one of three meetings with Shelter Island this year, the other two being official league contests. The team will also play non-league games at Westhampton on December 5 and at Hampton Bays on December 10 before their first home game against The Stony Brook School, a former rival that no longer competes in Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body of athletics.