It looked as if the Pierson (Sag Harbor) High School Whalers were going to blow out Port Jefferson in the early going of the county Class C boys basketball championship game played at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue on Feb. 15, but the Royals came back in the third quarter to make a game of it before the Whalers adjusted and went on to win 58-52.
Pierson seemingly put the game away with a 13-3 second-quarter run during which Dom Mancino, Luke Seltzer, and Charlie McLean made two baskets each — McLean’s second one being a 3-pointer.
But Port Jeff was not done. Led by Conor Daily’s outside shooting, the Royals, who trailed 36-21 at the half, continued to surge in the third. Daily got it going with a 3, his teammate Luke Dickhuth followed suit, and Daily, after two Port Jeff misses, hit from long range again for 36-30, serving notice that Port Jeff was not going to go away.
With somewhat less than two minutes left in the period, yet another 3 by Daily pulled the Royals to within 40-39. A converted steal by Mancino and a putback by Luke Seltzer sent the Whalers into the fourth up by 5.
After two Port Jeff misses at the foul line and three from the floor, McLean put Pierson up 49-39 on consecutive baskets and a free throw he was awarded after having made a fastbreak layup that was assisted by Keanu King, whom Pierson’s coach, Will Fujita, had brought in to strengthen the Whalers’ defense.
A 3-pointer by McLean, who was to finish with a game-high 24 points, extended the Whalers’ lead to 11 midway through the fourth. Yet another 3 by Daily — his seventh of the game — brought the Royals to within 5 with two minutes to play, but a foul shot by McLean and a 3 by Mancino gave the Whalers the breathing room they needed to win the county Class C title.
Pierson is to play in a state Class C regional final versus the Section I/IX winner at Eastport-South Manor High School on March 10.
On Tuesday, Pierson beat Bridgehampton in the county C-D game at Southampton High, 76 to 53.