Pierson Boys Basketball Is Following A Simple Philosophy Early On

Pierson's Wilson Bennett drives to the basket from the corner. MICHAEL HELLER

The Pierson boys basketball team is working with a simple philosophy this season, which head coach Will Fujita thinks might lead to success as long as they keep following it: Be grateful, be consistent. That’s it.

So far, following that mindset has worked out pretty well for the Whalers. After defeating Port Jefferson, 44-31, Thursday, December 9, Pierson defeated Smithtown Christian, 85-36, at home on Monday night. Along with a 77-56 victory over Greenport in the season opener on December 6, the Whalers are now the only remaining undefeated team at 3-0 in League VII, which includes all small schools in the county, including perennial powerhouses Center Moriches and Southampton.

Pierson’s Cecil Munshin shoots through defenders. MICHAEL HELLER

When word finally does spread throughout the county that these Whalers are for real, Fujita doesn’t think the team’s mindset will change all that much, if at all.

“We’ve had the same mindset from the beginning of the season — be grateful, be consistent,” he said on Tuesday morning. “Be grateful to learn and to be in the gym playing. It’s been wonderful to be back out on the floor and I know all of us are very appreciative for this opportunity.”

Pierson jumped out to a 20-8 lead after the first quarter against Smithtown Christian on Monday night and never looked back. Senior Wilson Bennett led all scorers with 19 points, while fellow senior Cecil Munshin scored 18. Junior Logan Hartstein chipped in with 13 points and senior Dan Labrozzi finished with 10 points.

Fujita said his team tried to play a change-of-pace game throughout.

“We didn’t necessarily play like a systematic first half, but the second half was much improved,” he said. “We stuck to what we do as opposed to the first half, where we played to their game in the first half, a little bit.”

Fujita said Port Jeff is a good team led by a good player in John Sheils, who scored a game-high 21 points. But the Whalers played good defense that night and wound up pulling it out.

Pierson’s Charlie Culver goes in for a layup to finish a fast break. MICHAEL HELLER

“We set the tone defensively early and kind of stuck with that,” Fujita said.

“The mindset is good,” he added. “We’re improving defensively every day, which has been fun to watch. I still think there are a lot of things that we need to polish to be competitive throughout the remainder of the season. We’re doing what we need to do early on though. It’s a fun group of guys to coach.”

Pierson is scheduled to play on Shelter Island this Thursday, December 16, at 5:45 p.m., and then will host crosstown rival Bridgehampton this Tuesday, December 21, at 6:15 p.m.