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Bears Top Pierson in Thriller to Clinch #1 Seed

February 4, 2015


The Stony Brook and Pierson boys’ basketball teams finally faced off this afternoon after their contest was postponed three times due to snow. Today’s thriller in Swanson Gymnasium was more than worth the wait.

There was plenty on the line besides bragging rights between two rivals. The #1 seed in next week’s Class C playoffs would largely be determined by the result of the game. After suffering their first two-game league losing streak in four years, the Brook righted the ship with a heart-pounding 43-42 victory in front of a rowdy crowd that gave the boys their best home-court advantage in years.

The weight of the moment seemed to effect both teams from the start as both squads struggled to make shots. Two layups from Luke Meyer was the extent of the Bears’ offense in the first, but thankfully Pierson only mustered a layup and a 3-pointer to take a slight 5-4 edge after one quarter.

The Whalers cast off the offensive shackles in the second period, opening with a 7-point spurt to take a 12-4 lead. The only silver lining during that stretch was Robbie Evjen, Pierson’s primary scoring threat, being forced from the game with his second foul. Robbie Colarusso responded with a bucket and Mac Bohuny followed with a layup and the foul to cut the Pierson edge to 12-9 and bring the Blue Fan Group to its feet. However, the Whalers did not allow the momentum to be wrested away from them, scoring five quick points on a 3-pointer and a layup to push the lead back to eight. With 30 seconds remaining in the half and Pierson still leading by six, Luke Meyer connected on his first 3-pointer to cleave the lead in half. The Bears followed with a great defensive possession, preventing Pierson from closing the half with a basket. While the Bears responded in the second quarter, it still felt as though the Whalers were in firm control of the game.

As the third quarter opened, things looked as though they were swinging the Brook’s way. Chester Kayonga stole the ball on the first possession, Jyles Etienne followed with a block, and Evjen picked up a quick third foul, necessitating another stint on the bench. However, the Bears’ offense continued to sputter. Pierson pushed their lead back to six with an old fashioned 3-point play, prompting coach Mike Hickey to call a timeout. During the break, Hickey made an impassioned plea to his team to ramp up the defense and their intensity. It would prove to be a watershed moment in the game.

From there the Bears went on a 9-0 run to grab their first lead since being up 2-0. Etienne began the comeback with a beautiful baby hook, then followed that with a steal on the press before scoring another layup for a quick four points. The Bears’ full court pressure then forced an errant pass out of bounds. The Bears failed to score on the next few possessions, but a monster block from Etienne and a Pierson travel kept the Whalers at bay. On the next possession Colarusso drilled a big 3-pointer to give the Bears the lead back, forcing a timeout from Pierson coach Dan White as the energy in Swanson reached a fever pitch. The defense continued as Kayonga stole the ball, then pinned a shot against the backboard on the next possession. The Bear defense was suffocating, but their offense was unable to create any distance. Pierson scored four straight to take a 30-29 lead before Colarusso knifed through the lane and finished through contact to score and draw the foul, bringing everyone in the building to their feet. His free throw gave the Brook a 32-30 edge heading into the final quarter.

Pierson scored five straight to open the quarter and grab a 35-32 lead. A Meyer 3-pointer, a Kayonga steal and another Etienne hook shot gave the Brook the lead back, 37-35. On the next possession the Bears missed a shot inside, but Meyer slipped underneath the other rebounders to catch the ball in midair and score a crucial layup. Another block from Etienne, followed by a steal and score from Colarusso forced a Pierson timeout as the crowd roared its approval. With a six-point lead in hand, the fans started chanting, “This is our house!,” but Pierson did not wilt under the pressure. They scored seven straight points to retake a 42-41 lead. On the ensuing possession, Kayonga hit a mid-range jumper to grab a one-point lead back with 1:28 remaining, but after a foul Pierson’s Evjen stepped up to the line for two shots and a chance to retake the lead. As the packed house held its collective breath, the center misfired on both shots. The Bears failed to extend their margin on their end, giving Pierson a chance to take the lead with under a minute. They got the look they wanted as 3-point threat Sean Sloane got an open look, but his potential fourth 3-pointer went halfway down before popping back out.

Down by one with 20 seconds left the, Whalers were forced to foul and Stony Brook was given the ball out of bounds with 12.3 seconds left. Pierson’s man pressure proved difficult for the Brook as the inbounds pass was stolen, but Kayonga came up with a monumental steal. In the ensuing frenzy, Pierson ended up fouling Bohuny with 1.9 seconds on the clock. Bohuny missed the front end of a one-and-one and Pierson rebounded but, in a hurry to get the ball up court, threw the ball out of bounds to end the game as the noise from the student section reached a crescendo.

Meyer finished with 14 points on his birthday. Etienne earned another double-double with 11 points and 14 hard-earned rebounds. Colarusso and Bohuny added 11 and 5, respectively. Kayonga only scored 2 points in the game, but they were the two most important ones of the night.

With the win the boys snapped Pierson’s seven-game winning streak and clinched the #1 seed in the Class C playoffs, meaning they will go directly to the Suffolk County Championship for the fourth straight year while Pierson and Southold will face-off in a play-in game. Coach Hickey improved to 33-13 all-time against the Whalers with the win.

The Bears will next face Smithtown Christian on Friday night at 7:30pm in the regular season finale. The team’s five seniors will also be honored as part of the Senior Night festivities. Get there early because the Blue Fan Group is going to pack the seats!


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Meyer permalink
    February 5, 2015 1:25 PM

    Great article as usual dan! I love em! C u friday!


    • February 5, 2015 1:38 PM

      I appreciate it Chris, as always! See you Friday!


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