Joey Butts was wide open in the corner, beyond the three-point line. That wasn't always a good thing for the Pierson junior. "Three years ago, my shot was the worst thing ever," Butts said with a laugh.
No more. Butts drained that three early in the third quarter as the shot clock expired and the red light on the backboard glowed. It gave Class C Pierson an 18-point lead, its largest of the night, and Butts' 17 points propelled the Whalers to a 57-41 boys basketball victory over Class D Bridgehampton Wednesday night in the Suffolk C-D game at Farmingdale State.
"I didn't think about it at the time, but now, wow, that's pretty cool," he said of seeing his shot beat the red light. Pierson (12-7) kept its cool, using ball movement to get numerous open looks.
"I don't have any 20-point scorers. Barely even 10," Pierson coach Dan White said. "But I like this team. They can all shoot, but they know they have to use each other to get good shots."
Patrick Sloan scored 12 points and Sean Miller had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Whalers, who play the Class B winner tomorrow night at Suffolk CC. Pierson also plays East Rockaway on March 6 at Farmingdale State for the Long Island championship, which is a state regional semifinal.
Caanan Campbell scored 21 points for Bridgehampton (7-12), which is still alive in the state Class D tournament.
Butts credited White with playing the role of shot doctor. "He started with me in the ninth grade and he's helped me so much," said Butts, who scored 11 second-half points. "I used to tilt my head back, bend my elbow, not use my legs."
White said the biggest thing was for Butts "to be ready to shoot when he got the ball." He sparked a 17-2 run in the second and third quarter.
"When he's right, we're right," White said.