It’s a game of runs.
Sparked by a pair of second-half point-scoring streaks, the Pierson/Bridgehampton girls basketball team topped Port Jefferson 47-32 at St. Joseph’s College on Tuesday evening, capturing the Suffolk B/C championship.
“We shared the basketball and weren’t selfish,” said senior point guard Chastin Giles. “Everybody got their fair share and that’s how we won. They couldn’t guard all of us.”
Junior forward Gigi Dryden added 18 points and 12 rebounds for Pierson, while Evelyn Walker led the Royals with 12 points.
After taking a 21-14 lead into the break, on Dryden’s put-back with seconds left on the clock, Pierson/Bridgehampton (13-7) opened the third quarter on a 10-2 surge.
Brooke Esposito capped the run, going 1-of-2 at the line to give the Whalers a 31-16 lead with just over two minutes left in the frame. Pierson/Bridgehampton controlled tempo throughout the stretch, finding holes in the Port Jefferson (15-7) zone and working a sharp inside-out game.
“In the beginning of the game I felt like the middle was wide open,” Dryden said. “Eventually [Port Jefferson] was going to catch on, but that left the outside wide open and, of course, the guards know what to do. There was always a second option.”
Dryden was also a force on the boards, jump-starting the Whalers as they grabbed rebounds for second and third looks at the basket.
“It wasn’t just Gigi, but Gigi was all over it,” Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Woody Kneeland said. “It was unbelievable to see. They all hustled, and it was probably the hardest they’ve played for each other.”
Port Jefferson did its best to rally in the opening minutes of the fourth, cutting the deficit to six on Abigail Rolfe’s basket with 6:15 to play, but the Whalers answered with a 13-3 run of their own. Dryden and Grace Perello combined on the offensive burst, scoring 11 straight to give the Whalers a 16-point cushion with 1:27 left.
While the offense was rolling, the Whalers locked in on defense, keeping Port Jefferson off the board for over four minutes in the fourth. The Royals were held to two free throws in the final five and a half minutes as Pierson/Bridgehampton controlled pace on both sides of the ball.
“We all came together as a team,” Giles said. “We had assignments and we executed them.”
Pierson/Bridgehampton will play Westhampton in the Suffolk Small School championship, Saturday at 5 p.m. St. Joseph’s. The Whalers then turn their attention to the Long Island Championship, squaring off against East Rockaway on March 5 at 4:30 p.m. at Newfield High School.
“It’s really exciting,” Dryden said. “I know that we’re going to do well, we just have to keep working.”