It was freezing outside the Greenport High School gym, with temperatures dropping in the 20s. Inside the gym, Pierson’s boys basketball team was on fire.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, Greenport’s coach, Ev Corwin, said his team needed a win. The Porters didn’t get that win, suffering their fourth straight loss, but they could at least take some solace in that they had played what Corwin regarded as their best game of the season.
What shot the Porters down in their 72-63 defeat was Pierson’s torrid shooting. The Whalers canned 13 of their first 16 field-goal attempts. They finished the game shooting 50 percent and connecting on 13 3-point shots from 21 attempts. Will Martin had six of those 3-pointers as part of his 20-point game.
Pierson’s top two scorers, however, were Sean Sloane with 24 points and Andrew James with 23. James hit five treys.
Pierson (6-5, 3-1 Suffolk County League VIII) needed that kind of shooting to deal with Greenport’s distinct height advantage.
Tremendous efforts by the 6-foot-3 Julian Swan and the 6-4 Sam Strickland, who both turned in double-doubles, kept the Porters in the game. Thanks to those two big bodies, the Porters outrebounded Pierson, 43-20, and by 23-7 on the offensive glass.
Swan had a full statistical line: 19 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks and 1 assist. The freshman shot 9 for 18 from the field. Strickland put up 10 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block. Jordan Fonseca came off the bench to supply 10 points.
James put in 11 points during a 21-4 run that gave Pierson a 34-16 cushion 2 minutes 51 seconds into the second quarter. Sloane got a bounce to fall his way at the buzzer, leaving the Whalers with a 43-28 lead at the half.
But the Porters (1-5, 0-3), to their credit, didn’t fizzle in the face of Pierson’s sharp outside shooting. They were able to pull to within 1 point when a 3-pointer by Fonseca bounced straight up off the rim and then fell through, making the score 52-51 late in the third quarter.
Try as they did, though, the Porters were unable to pull ahead. Pierson was able to answer every Greenport basket with one of its own. A 15-3 spurt by Pierson made it 67-55 with 4:00 to go in the game. It was too much for the Porters to overcome.
Photo caption: Greenport freshman Julian Swan, rising above Pierson players to take a shot, had 19 points and 14 rebounds. (Credit: Garret Meade)