Squeezed between a pair of tough non-league losses this past week was Will Fujita’s first varsity victory as head coach of the Pierson boys basketball team.
Twelve different Whalers scored in a runaway 67-31 win over the Ross School on December 6 in a game that highlighted Pierson’s depth and defensive acumen.
“I was a defensive player,” said Fujita, a music teacher at Pierson who played high school basketball at Southold, one of Pierson’s chief rivals, “and I think it’s something you can do every day. So I have a lot of different schemes for whomever we play. They have all the tools in the bag, it’s just about polishing what we have.”
Pierson dropped its season opener, 60-54, to Mattituck at home on December 3 and lost on the road at Miller Place, 62-45, on Monday. The team will host two straight home games, against Shelter Island this Friday, December 13, at 6:15 p.m. and against Babylon on Saturday at noon. The team will travel to play Hampton Bays on Tuesday, December 17, with tip off at 5:45 p.m.
The Whalers wasted little time jumping out to an early lead against Ross with a swarming full-court trapping defense consistently leading to easy offensive opportunities. Senior Henry Brooks led the team with 19 points, while Cecil Munchin and Pierce Summer scored nine points apiece.
Wilson Bennett, Richard Barranco, Peter Schaefer, Nick Egbert, Harry Cowen, Habtamu Coulter, Jessup Kunzeman, Hudson Brindle and Richard Rodriguez all scored in the game as Fujita got a chance to look at his entire lineup as the team heads for the meat of the League VIII season.
“I think we have a lot of things to work on,” he said. “Executing the game plan is something I try to stress a lot. We did a decent job, but it wasn’t the standard we all hold for each other.
“The good thing about what we have going is we have five guys who can come off the bench who can push the five guys who started the game,” Fujita added. “And that’s really helpful at practice, because they can push each other. Nobody is really secure in any position. It’s the next man up philosophy.”
Fujita spent the last three years coaching Pierson’s junior varsity team, so he knows many of the players on the team well enough to have built strong chemistry in the early going.
He also said a successful summer league campaign set the Whalers up nicely for the season, one in which they will chase league and Suffolk County Class C titles.
“I tell these guys the only thing I really want to see from them on a day-to-day basis is consistency and playing with toughness,” he said. “What you put in is what you get out.”