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In Pierson Loss, Rams Were as Advertised

Wed, 03/13/2024 - 17:58
Pierson’s Charlie McLean, who will be headed to Fairleigh Dickinson University in the fall, is seen here in action last season.
Craig Macnaughton

Dan White, who coaches the Pierson (Sag Harbor) High School boys basketball team, said following the Whalers’ 53-39 win over Babylon in the county Class B title game that West Hempstead, Nassau’s B champ, would be a different matter.

And, indeed, it was, for the Rams, a team that White said was nine deep, athletic, and well coached, proved to be as advertised in the Long Island championship matchup at Center Moriches High School on March 4.

Playing well in transition, and pretty much controlling the boards, West Hempstead led 42-30 at the half and continued to cruise in the second half on the way to a decisive 75-54 victory.

Two 3-pointers by Pierson’s Aidan Schmitz in the third quarter pulled the Whalers to 54-43, but, with three minutes remaining in the period, Luke Seltzer, Pierson’s leading scorer, had to go to the sidelines temporarily after turning an ankle, and, soon after, Dom Mancino was blocked while attempting to convert a fast-break layup.

At that point, one of the announcers offered as an analogy that “it’s like one team’s doing 50 on the L.I.E. and the other’s doing 65.”

When the fourth quarter began, it was noted that West Hempstead had taken only two long shots in the previous three periods. “They’re getting the ball out and running — that’s how they’ve taken control of this game. . . . Most of their points have come from fast breaks or off of offensive rebounds.”

Seltzer, who re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, finished with a game-high 28 points, and Charlie McLean, who fouled out with almost four minutes to go, had 11.

Four West Hempstead players wound up in double figures, led by Isaiah Blunt’s 25.

“It feels unreal,” Blunt told Newsday’s Ben Dickson afterward. “Last couple of years our school hasn’t been that good, really. Making it to the Long Island championship game this year just shows you all the hard work we’ve put in this season.”

It was, said Dickson, West Hempstead’s first Long Island title in the program’s history.

As for the Whalers, “All my guys are awesome,” White was quoted as saying. “They’re unselfish, they play hard, they’re talented, and have a bright future.”

Pierson finished the season with a 15-7 record. West Hempstead carried a 19-4 record into the state Class B southeast regional final matchup Saturday with Woodlands, which wound up a 72-66 winner in overtime, thus punching its ticket to the state Final Four in Glens Falls this weekend. Blunt led his team with 28 points in Saturday’s game, which was played at Yorktown High School.

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