FALCONS 30, BLUE WAVES 26
More often than not, summer league basketball games wind up offensively challenged. Teams run few, if any, set plays. There are limited time-outs to make adjustments. Lineups are constantly shuffled.
It would be easy to chalk up a 26-point performance for Riverhead in Wednesday’s Town of Brookhaven Summer League large school championship game to the fact that, well, it’s summer. An underlying cause for that low total — Deer Park won 30-26 — centered around something the Blue Waves know won’t easily go away once the varsity season begins in November: turnovers.
“That’s our biggest problem,” said Riverhead coach Dave Spinella. “It was our biggest problem last year. It still was a problem this summer.”
As the familiar sentiment goes, as echoed by coaches throughout gyms near and far, value the basketball.
For a young team filled with skilled players and loaded with potential, trimming down on turnovers will be one of the biggest factors for the Blue Waves to take the next step this winter to getting back into playoff contention.
The youth for Riverhead is most prevalent in the backcourt, where the primary ballhandlers play. That would seem an obvious indicator of potential turnovers. As Spinella noted, it’s also up to the forwards, who are the more veteran players on the team, to assist in holding onto the ball.
“Our forwards help break the pressure,” he said. “They come down with rebounds sometimes and don’t know who to throw it to. It’s just about smart decision making.”
The Blue Waves never led against Deer Park at Eastport-South Manor High School, but were never out of the game. The Sharks’ biggest lead was seven late in the first half.
The Blue Waves threatened several times to make a run and grab the lead, but could never get over the hump.
The freshmen backcourt of Faith Johnson-DeSilvia and Kate McCarney connected for a basket to tie the game at 22 with 6:45 left in the second half. It was the first time the Blue Waves pulled even. Johnson-DeSilvia fed a pass to McCarney, who hit a baseline jumper.
Junior Sam Dunn tied the game again at 24 a few minutes later with a baseline jumper. But the Falcons ran off the next five points and the Blue Waves didn’t score against until the final seconds.
It was only the second loss for Riverhead this summer and snapped a 10-game winning streak. The Blue Waves will have plenty to feel good about as they head into the upcoming school year, where several girls turn to a fall sport first before basketball officially starts.
“If you told me we’d be in the [summer league] finals and lose by four, I’d take it every day,” Spinella said. “Maybe not every time, but I’d take it.”
For the two playoff games — Riverhead beat Smithtown East Monday in a semifinal — Spinella shortened the rotation to more resemble a regular season game.
“You want them to have that feel of a big game,” he said. “You want them to be able to adjust and learn on the fly. They did a great job.”
Dunn led the Blue Waves with 16 points. She shot 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. Kim Ligon scored five points.