Pierson players celebrate their victory over Alexander Hamilton in the...

Pierson players celebrate their victory over Alexander Hamilton in the Class C regional basketball finals at Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., on Sunday. Credit: Allyse Pulliam

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — The PA announcer kept saying it over and over after the ball went through the basket in the fourth quarter: "Wilson Bennett."

With a trip to the Class C state final four in boys basketball on the line, the senior forward scored 17 of his 34 points in the last eight minutes.

But with Pierson locked in a tie with Section I champ Alexander Hamilton and the final seconds ticking away, another senior entered the picture and sent the Whalers to Glens Falls.

After two misses in the final sequence, guard Leo Butler grabbed an offensive rebound and beat the buzzer to give Pierson a 65-63 win in the Southeast Regional final Sunday at Yorktown High School.

So the Whalers (23-2) can head north and chase the program’s first state championship since its only state championship in 1978.

They will face Section IV champ Newfield (21-4) in the semis at 1 p.m. Friday at Cool Insuring Arena.

"It’s awesome," Butler said. "We’ve all been playing together since elementary school. This is what you dream for, with all your friends."

Chris Ward had hit a three with about 44 seconds left to tie it at 63 for the Red Raiders (18-6).

After Hamilton’s Jaylen Savage blocked Bennett on a drive, Pierson retained possession with 21.7 seconds left. Then came a miss, an offensive rebound and another miss.

"I like to come in and clean it up with the actual rebounds," Butler said.

Consider this glass clean. Butler grabbed the ball and put it up from a few feet away on the right side.

"The second half, they weren’t really boxing out," Butler said.

Bennett’s short bank shot with 6:10 remaining gave Pierson a 48-47 lead, its first edge since the second minute of the game. He hit a three and followed with a layup to make it a 55-49 game with 3:52 to go.

"[My teammates are] the ones that get those open looks for me because they spread the floor so well," Bennett said.

The Red Raiders hung in until the end. They led by eight twice in the third quarter, but it was just 45-42 Hamilton after three. Christian Davis led the way with 24 points.

"I’m just so proud of these guys," Pierson coach Will Fujita said. "They never gave up, kept grinding, stuck to the game plan. Just grateful for the opportunity to continue to play basketball."

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