NORTH BABYLON — Sometimes what a person doesn’t say will get the message across much better than words.
After his high school boys basketball team dropped a 63-50 Suffolk County League III loss to North Babylon on Saturday, Riverhead Coach John Rossetti was asked what he thought of the game. Rossetti took a long time before answering: “That’s all I can say right now. I guess dead silence.”
One certainly couldn’t blame Rossetti for being speechless. The Blue Waves, who have hopes of reaching the playoffs, endured a rough 24 hours, dropping an excruciating 41-36 home defeat to Newfield on Friday.
Following Saturday’s game, Riverhead dropped to 5-8, 4-5 in the league.
“We have to win three out of our next five,” Rossetti said. “Is it doable? Yes. But it is now an uphill battle. We’re digging ourselves a hole that we shouldn’t be in right now.”
The effort was there, but the execution wasn’t.
Rossetti wasn’t silent when he spoke to his team in the locker room afterwards.
Elwood Lamb III, who led Riverhead with 17 points, said Rossetti told the team “that we shouldn’t hang our heads. We’ve still got five games left in the season and that anything could happen. So just keep our heads up and work hard and try to win the next game.”
The next game is against Copiague at home on Thursday.
The Blue Waves’ shooting went cold at the worst times and they handled the ball like a hot potato. They committed 32 turnovers. North Babylon, which improved to 6-6, 3-5, made 26 turnovers, but the hosts didn’t hurt themselves as much.
“We had a lot of turnovers, a lot of missed layups,” Lamb said. “They had a lot of turnovers too, but they capitalized on our turnovers.”
The Blue Waves stumbled to a 19-7 first-quarter deficit, committing nine turnovers. North Babylon senior guard Preshod McCoy set the tone, scoring a layup off a steal for the game’s first two points. Before you knew it, the Bulldogs enjoyed a 12-2 advantage.
A striking transformation occurred in the second quarter. The Blue Waves looked confident, cut down on the turnovers and hit their shots. They outscored the Bulldogs, 23-8, buoyed by an amazing 17-3 run to close out the half.
“We had the intensity,” Lamb said.
Lamb scored 13 points in the period, including three three-point shots from the left corner within 82 seconds.
“I was just feeling it,” he said. “I was taking what the defense was giving me. I had to take advantage. My teammates helped me get open shots. We were able to capitalize and have a good second quarter.”
The Blue Waves went back to their early ways in the second half, throwing the ball away three times in the opening 40 seconds. North Babylon did not convert any of those turnovers into points, but they were missed opportunities.
“It sets the tone for the half,” Rossetti said. “We came out a little bit on the heels. They did a nice job of getting some transition buckets, which created opportunities for them to make it a helter-skelter type game.
“I thought we made a great run in the second quarter, got momentum. We had a lot of turnovers to begin with. Those crucial three, four minutes to start the second half, we have been lacking.”
Riverhead still was very much alive after Reggie Moore’s steal and layup sliced the lead to 48-47 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. But a cold shooting spell, combined with more turnovers, allowed the Bulldogs to go on an 11-0 spurt. Guard Devonte Green (game-high 27 points) scored nine points for the hosts in the quarter.
“We can’t just come out in the third quarter lackadaisical,” Lamb said. “That’s how we got behind. We’ve got to keep that same intensity we had in the first half.”
Trailing by double digits, the Blue Waves threw up many three-pointers to try to scrape their way back into the game. By the time Lamb hit their only three-pointer, North Babylon had secured a 59-50 lead with 59.4 seconds remaining.
“It’s a pattern that we’ve shown that we got dry for a long amount of time,” Rossetti said. “We just happen to miss shots at the bad time.”