BLUE WAVES 49, REDMEN 38
A main focus for the Riverhead girls basketball team heading into Thursday night’s game against East Islip centered on limiting their fouls. When the teams met earlier in the season — one of only two Riverhead league losses — multiple players fouled out for the Blue Waves.
That included leading scorer Shanice Allen, who was sent to the bench with her fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.
So on Thursday night at Riverhead High School, Allen had her mind set on staying out foul trouble. It didn’t quite start off as she planned, when only 1 minute, 24 seconds into the game, she picked up her second foul on a reach-in.
“Here we go again,” said Riverhead coach Dave Spinella. “We’re a different team than we were then, though. I felt a little better knowing we can put people on the floor that’ll handle what we need to handle.”
The Blue Waves weathered Allen’s early foul trouble, and she bounced back to score 14 points and help lead the Blue Waves to a big 49-38 League III victory.
It was a special night on several fronts. The Blue Waves furthered their case for a top-eight seed and home playoff game. And they also raised $730 as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser, which included a halftime half-court shot contest for fans (only one person sank a shot).
On the court, it was a “revenge” game for the Blue Waves.
“We had to come take care of business on our home court,” Allen said.
Allen did her part by scoring six of the final eight points for Riverhead as the Blue Waves closed the game on an 8-0 run after East Islip got within three points with 5:15 left.
The Blue Waves (9-5, 8-2 League III) held the Redmen scoreless over that final 5:15 and gave up only four points in the fourth quarter.
“We had to lock up their shooters,” Allen said. “We know that was their key to try to come back.”
Spinella said picking up East Islip man-to-man in the full court helped fuel the defense in the fourth.
“For a team like East Islip, they love to run their offense,” he said. “They want to run their sets and get their shots. But if you force them to pick their offense up in the 3/4 court, now they’re trying to run their offense out here.”
The Blue Waves got a game-high 16 points from senior Naysha Trent. She got the Blue Waves going in the third quarter after East Islip started on an 8-0 run to take a 29-27 lead. The quick start for the Redmen (9-5, 6-4 League III) came after Riverhead had closed out the the second quarter on a 10-0 run.
Trent banked in a runner in the lane with 4:10 left in the third to tie the game at 29. It sparked a 12-2 run to swing the momentum back in Riverhead’s favor. The Blue Waves never relinquished the lead once they got it back in the third.
“Everything with us is running the floor,” Spinella said. “Once we’re able to transition into offense, that’s when we get it and make our spurts and runs.”
Freshman forwards Dezarae Brown and Sam Dunn were both key down low for Riverhead. Brown scored eight points and Dunn added six. Life in the paint was a little easier for the Blue Waves in this game as the Redmen were without center Katie Walsh, who suffered an ACL injury earlier this season.
Spinella said Brown has been a key player for Riverhead in multiple areas.
“She’s now pointing up our zone press and she does a good job with that,” he said. “She’s been running the floor like a gazelle. She rebounds the ball.”
Brown converted a steal into fastbreak layup midway through the third to give the Blue Waves a 31-29 lead. Allen followed with a steal and fastbreak hoop of her own.
Before the game the Blue Waves honored assistant coach Katelynn DeLuca, who is head coach of the middle school team. A 2006 Riverhead graduate, DeLuca discovered she had cancer after her senior season ended at Riverhead, Spinella told the crowd before the game. DeLuca fought through the adversity, attended Suffolk Community College before transferring to Stony Brook., where she completed her undergraduate and master’s degree. DeLuca now works as a substitute teacher and recovered from her illness.