Southampton's Tyson Reddick (1) shoots inn the third quarter during...

Southampton's Tyson Reddick (1) shoots inn the third quarter during the Suffolk High School boys basketball game between Southampton and Pierson on Monday Jan 30 2023 at Southampton High School Credit: Bob Sorensen

The Southampton gymnasium is virtually wallpapered with championship banners — a testimony to the school’s long legacy of excellence in athletics. It’s such an array that what truly stands out are the blank spots where the white cinder blocks show through.

This boys basketball season, the Mariners are playing like they have every intention of covering some more of them up.

Southampton has emerged as the team to beat for the Suffolk Class B crown. On Monday night it hosted Pierson, the front-runner for the Suffolk Class C title. But the anticipated battle between the two teams with the best records in Suffolk League V — where Class B, C and D teams compete — didn’t turn out to be a battle at all.

The Mariners are a team hitting its stride with the postseason looming. Meanwhile, the Whalers have been searching for the consistency that helped them get to Glens Falls a year ago, and playing without three of their starting five didn’t help.

Southampton’s speed, three-point shooting and ferocity on the glass was no match for Pierson, and the Mariners rolled to an 85-36 victory.

“I’m not going to say that I like where we are, but I do like where we are going,” Southampton coach Herm Lamison said. “I see a team trending better at a time when we’ll have to be.”

Sophomore Tyson Reddick showed why his teammates have nicknamed him “Splash” by totaling 27 points on nine three-pointers. Senior Derek Reed had 19 points and 12 assists to lead Southampton (13-4, 9-0). Kyle Seltzer had 13 points for Pierson (11-7, 11-4).

Southampton was the county B champion last season before losing the Long Island title game to Nassau’s Friends Academy. Reed, a 2022 Newsday All-Long Island second-team selection, said that when he walked away from that season, “it hurt a lot — it was a feeling I never want to experience again.”

However, looking at this version of the Mariners, he believes his last go-around could become something special.

“I’ve been dreaming of going upstate and winning the title my whole life,” he said. “I look at this team and think we could do it. We have the talent and the size, and we play hard together. But to win, you have to stay humble. It’s what we have to do.”

Pierson’s leading scorer, Luke Seltzer, had to move from the wing to point guard with Dom Mancino sidelined, and wasn’t able to use every part of his game. As Whalers coach Will Fujita said, “A lot of people were in unfamiliar roles.”

“Pierson is way better than what we got today, because they’re missing players,” Reed said. “I wish they’d been full strength, because that would have been a challenge.”

Fujita said: “I think this serves us down the road as we try to become the team we want to be.”

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