After three days off following their Long Island Championship victory over Baldwin Friday, the Riverhead Blue Waves returned to practice Tuesday with an added twist in the background.
Much like a football team trying to simulate the noise of a stadium for a road game, the Blue Waves cranked up static from the radio during practice to help the players prepare for what should be a raucous atmosphere at Hudson Valley Community College Friday night in the Class AA state semifinals.
“It gets real loud up there from what I’ve heard,” said Riverhead coach Dave Spinella.
The Blue Waves will look to make plenty of noise themselves against undefeated Penfield (Section V) at 6:15 p.m. tonight in a game that will be broadcast live via streaming audio and video on riverheadnewsreview.com. In an effort to make the game as visible as possible for Riverhead fans who can’t make the trip, the News-Review feed will also be streamed on Riverhead Patch.
Penfiled comes into the game on a 23-game winning streak, just like Riverhead.
The Patriots earned a spot in the final four by beating Lockport, 54-37. They did it behind 15 points from sophomore Margot Hetzke, a 5-foot-11 forward who has averaged 17.5 points per game this year, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
Spinella said Penfield is a team similar to Hauppauge, from what he’s seen on film.
“They have a nice girl in the middle, they have some shooters around her and they like to pressure,” he said.
The Blue Waves did an excellent job against Hauppauge of not giving up open looks on 3-pointers. They’ll need a similar effort against Penfield while also controlling the boards.
“They can shoot very well,” Spinella said. “If we leave kids open they can definitely bury some shots. And we got to keep them off the boards. No second shots.”
The Blue Waves left Riverhead Thursday morning, checked into their hotel, practiced and had a team dinner. They plan a brief walk-through for Friday morning and may catch a movie in the afternoon before heading to the arena.
If the Blue Waves pull out a victory in the semifinals, it’ll be either Cicero-North Syracuse or Ossining waiting in the finals. Both teams feature some of the top players in the country. Breanna Stewart from Cicero won the New York Miss Basketball Award as the top player in the state. She’s headed to the University of Connecticut next fall and is considered one of the best players in the country.
Ossining is led by junior Saniya Chong, who has already surpassed 2,000 career points. Chong could end up teammates with Stewart at UConn.
Chong was featured this week in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd.” She’s averaging 33.6 points per game this year, with 9.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds.
“I know what’s going on over there [in the other semifinal],” Spinella said with a laugh. “I’m just trying to worry about Friday.”