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Feb 2, 2009 2:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Whalers lose first game without Marienfeld

Feb 2, 2009 2:43 PM

The Pierson boys basketball team had a tough week. First head coach Fred Marienfeld was fired, and then the Whalers suffered a disappointing 59-44 defeat at home to Mercy on Friday. But the Whalers now have a new coach, and they crushed Shelter Island 60-34 in a road game Saturday.

The Pierson fans came out in force in Sag Harbor on Friday and the sense of rivalry and competition made the Whalers’ 59-44 loss all the more painful.

Pierson and Mercy were tied at 5-5 with 2:30 left in the first period when junior Casey Crowley scored a three pointer to give his team the lead. The Whalers took a 26-21 lead into halftime, but they began to crack before falling apart completely in the second half.

After halftime, the Monarchs set the pace with nice passing and good free throw shooting, while Pierson missed key rebounds and shots and allowed turnover after turnover. Mercy took the lead on a foul shot with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter.

Frustration set in for Pierson fans—many of whom wore the school colors of red and white or painted their faces to show school spirit—and early in the fourth quarter one young man was ejected from the gym for bad behavior in the stands.

From there, the Whaler lead disintegrated, and five minutes into the final stanza, Mercy led 47-35.

Junior Joe Dowling scored a series of baskets and free throws, but the Whalers were forced to foul in an attempt to regain control the game, and Mercy nailed nearly all of its penalty shots.

Tyler Gilbride led the Whalers with 13 points, most of them on free throws and three-pointers, Crowley followed with 12 points and Dowling scored 10 points.

“They really didn’t miss anything,” Whalers junior varsity coach Kevin Barron, who coached the team on Friday, said of the Monarch free throws. He admitted that foul shots and turnovers were his team’s “Achilles heel” and noted that Mercy beat Pierson much worse when they played in Riverhead earlier this year.

“They controlled us last time,” Barron said, explaining the January 6 game when Pierson lost 56-28. “They picked us apart.”

Marienfeld was suspended following the first Mercy game after he used profanity while criticizing his players in the locker room. He was fired last week after he publicly discussed his issues with two players who had quit the team.

Marienfeld has been replaced by Pierson special education teacher Christian Johns and Barron will remain on board as an assistant varsity coach.

Johns led the Whalers to victory against Shelter Island on Saturday, and Barron said “he’s going to be a nice fit.” The new coach had his team play a man-to-man defense, applying pressure on the Indians throughout the game, according to Barron “CJ likes to apply the pressure,” he said of the new coach.

Barron said everyone on the team played and scored, coming back after the tough game against Mercy.

Crowley led Pierson with 19 points, followed by Dowling with 10 points. The two players were named co-captains at the Mercy game on Friday. Dowling had been named the team’s sole captain by Marienfeld at the beginning of the season.

Pierson is now 6-5 in League VIII and needs one more victory to make the Class C playoffs.

The Whalers were scheduled to play at Ross at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday and they will host Greenport at 6:15 p.m. on Friday. Pierson beat Ross 45-30 in Sag Harbor on January 8 and lost 84-36 to Greenport on January 12.

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