What started as a yawner ended as a thriller.
The Riverhead girls basketball team ran its win streak to 22 straight after a 61-59 overtime victory over Class B champion Southampton Friday night at Farmingdale State College in the overall Section XI Championship game.
The Blue Waves (22-1) raced out to an 8-0 advantage in the non-elimination game and led by as many as 15 while playing the entire roster through three quarters. But the Mariners rallied in the fourth behind a dominant performance by 5-foot-10 forward Kesi Goree (31 points, 14 rebounds) to force the game into overtime. The Mariners (19-4) grabbed their first and only lead of the game with about 30 seconds left in overtime when Goree sank a short baseline jumper from the left side.
Riverhead immediately answered as Allen took the ball down the middle of the lane and knocked down a runner to give the lead back to Riverhead, 60-59. Southampton called timeout with :12.1 left and down by one.
Junior guard Paris Hodges got the ball for Southampton and drove to her left toward the hoop but couldn’t get off a strong shot. The ball hit the bottom of the backboard and Allen hauled in the rebound. She was fouled, but the Waves needed to inbounds once more because it was only the sixth team foul. Brown was then fouled and she missed the front-end of a one-and-one. Southampton got it back with :3.3 left and called time again, needing to go the length of the court.
Goree threw a long inbounds pass that was intercepted by Allen like a defensive back as she back-pedaled near midcourt.
Both teams live to see another day. Riverhead will play its Class AA Long Island Championship game a week from today back at Farmingdale State against Baldwin or Massapequa. Southampton will play Cold Spring Harbor March 7.
The game didn’t have anywhere the near the intensity and buzz as last Tuesday’s Class AA county championship game. Until the fourth quarter.
The Waves appeared to have the game in hand and the starters took the floor to start the fourth ready to put it away. But the Mariners didn’t go quietly. Thanks to Goree, who was nearly unstoppable in the second half, the Mariners kept chipping away and chipping away.
Hodges (13 points) tied the game in the final minute on a long jumper from the top of the arc. Allen gave the Blue Waves the lead back when she scored off a steal. But Goree answered again with two more to tie the game. The Blue Waves had the ball with 20 seconds left and a chance to win the game. Brown dribbled up top, passed to Allen, who drove toward the hoop and dished to Riley. She put up a difficult shot and missed, sending the game to overtime.
Riley was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. She finished the game with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Allen led the team with 19 points and Brown added 18.
Below is a live blog from Friday’s game: