The emergence of Greg Gehring revitalized Southold’s offense and gave the First Settlers a high school boys basketball tournament title over the holiday break. But not even Gehring’s inspired play, or Pat McFarland’s scoring ability, was enough Saturday when the First Settlers ushered in the new year with a loss.
Steady shooting by Pierson — from deep range, too — enabled the Whalers to register a 69-57 victory at Southold High School.
Sean Sloane, a senior, dropped in 25 points and assisted on five baskets for Pierson (5-5, 2-1 Suffolk County League VIII), which nailed down 11 of 18 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Whalers, who shot 48.7 percent from the field, also received 17 points from Andrew James and 16 from Will Martin. Martin, a sophomore, drained four of Pierson’s treys.
The First Settlers (3-5, 0-3) had closed out 2015 on a high note by winning the Hampton Bays Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Tournament for the second time. McFarland struck for 26 points in a 58-43 defeat of Westhampton Beach in the tournament final on Dec. 29, but it was Gehring, a senior guard, who was selected the tournament’s most valuable player.
In Southold’s first game in the tournament on Dec. 28, McFarland didn’t make a field goal and managed 7 points from the foul line. Gehring stepped up and netted 17 points to lead the way to a 45-29 trouncing of host Hampton Bays. Southold shut out the Baymen in the second quarter, 12-0, to forge a 21-4 lead by halftime. In the championship game, Gehring had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
On Saturday, McFarland produced 19 points and 9 rebounds while Gehring added 16 points, but it wasn’t enough against Pierson.
The First Settlers started the game well, shooting out to an 11-3 lead, but Pierson battled back. The Whalers took their first lead of the game when Spencer Chase drilled a 3-pointer with 4 minutes 9 seconds left in the first half. They took the lead for good on another 3-pointer, by Sloane, snapping a 36-36 tie about midway through the third quarter.
Southold was hurt by foul trouble. Noah Mina, who had a team-high six assists, and Gehring both fouled out in the final 70 seconds.
The First Settlers committed 28 fouls to 17 by Pierson. Those numbers were reflected at the free-throw line, with Pierson making 20 of 36 free throws, and the First Settlers going 6 of 10.
Photo caption: Pierson’s Sean Sloane, left, and Southold’s Pat McFarland wrestle for possession of the ball. (Credit: Garret Meade)