Pierson's Luke Seltzer gets rebound ahead of Babylon's Trevor Thuma...

Pierson's Luke Seltzer gets rebound ahead of Babylon's Trevor Thuma during Suffolk Class B boys basketball final on Thursday, Feb. 29,. 2024. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Luke Seltzer is very comfortable in transition.

The 6-4 senior scored 23 points to lead top-seeded Pierson’s effort in turning defense into offense in its 53-39 win over No. 2 Babylon in the Suffolk Class B boys basketball championship game Thursday night at Southampton.

“Our best offense is in transition. The best way to score in transition is playing great defense,” Seltzer said. “We stepped up and made it difficult for their shooters and the game came easier to us.”

The Whalers found their groove toward the end of the third quarter, starting with Seltzer scoring a layup in transition. Aidan Schmitz ended the quarter with a buzzer-beating runner from halfcourt.

“That definitely brought our energy up a lot and helped us go on that run,” Charlie McLean said. “That shot was a big part of the game.”

With 5:30 left, Henry Butler picked up a loose ball and found the 6-5 McLean running the floor for a two-handed jam to give Pierson a 43-29 lead.

It was all part of a 16-3 run, in which Seltzer scored eight points.

It’s Pierson’s seventh county title and third consecutive, though the previous two were Class C crowns. The Whalers will face the winner of Carle Place/West Hempstead in the Long Island championship/Southeast Regional semifinal at 4 p.m. on Monday at Center Moriches.

In his first year back at Pierson, coach Dan White said that taking over a team that had won two straight county titles wasn’t as easy as some might think. White coached at Pierson (15-6) for six years before coaching the past seven at East Hampton.

“I know all these kids from when they were in elementary school, but they had to learn a new offense and a new defense,” White said. “I explained to them it might take some time and they bought in. It was challenging early, but it’s worked out for the best.”

White said both Seltzer and McLean have significantly improved their defense throughout the year, helping the Whalers get to their bread and butter in transition.

“When we play a 2-3 zone, we tend to sag a little bit, but we were playing up the line and keeping our hands up and not sagging,” McLean said.

McLean had 16 points and Dom Mancino added nine points.

Sincere McDougal scored 22 points for Babylon (7-12).

Following last year’s Class C title game, Pierson had a two-week layoff until its Regional final, in which the Whalers fell by four points to Haldane. Monday’s game for a LI title is a welcome sign for the Whalers.

“We went into that game last year with two straight weeks of no games, just practice,” Seltzer said. “It’s great to have a game in between to break that up.”

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