The Riverhead Blue Waves can chalk this boys basketball season up as an improvement. It just wasn’t as much of an improvement as they would have liked.
Neither Riverhead or Lindenhurst, both eliminated from playoff contention, had more to play for than pride — and the satisfaction of closing out the season on a winning note. That satisfaction fell in host Lindenhurst’s favor Friday as the Bulldogs downed Riverhead, 64-60, in a Suffolk County League II regular-season finale.
Riverhead finished the season with a 9-11 record (4-8 in the league), a vast upgrade from last season’s 3-17.
“We didn’t make playoffs, we wanted to finish off on a good note,” Riverhead guard Cir’rus Davender said. “It’s been a struggle kind of, but it what it is.”
With its win, last-place Lindenhurst (6-14, 3-9) snapped a five-game losing streak it went on since beating Riverhead, 51-45, on Jan. 16.
Lindenhurst’s three seniors, who were recognized with their parents before the game, all played prominent roles in the game. Jordan Lawton scored 19 points, Rian Casimio had 13 and Justin Zotto racked up 13 assists. Sunkonmi Agunloge added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Quashiem Miller had a superb game for Riverhead, totaling 23 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks and four assists. Davender put up 13 points and five assists while Robert Tyre had 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals.
The two teams were a good match for each other Friday. Riverhead twice led by six points, the largest margin of the game, at 51-45 and 53-47.
A Davender three-pointer and a Miller putback gave Riverhead a 60-57 lead with 1 minute, 47 seconds left in the game.
Manny White sank a three from the corner to draw Lindenhurst even at 60-60 with 1:12 remaining.
Riverhead committed three turnovers in the final minute from a charging foul and a steal by Lawton.
Casimio drained a trey for a 63-60 Lindenhurst lead. He later missed a one-and-one opportunity, but Zotto made a steal, drew a foul and hit a foul shot with 7.3 seconds left to seal the result.
Riverhead closed its season with six losses from seven games. With first-string point guard Cristian Pace out with an ankle injury, the Blue Waves started Tommy Powers, the team’s only senior aside from Davender.
“I wanted to send the seniors home with a ‘W’,” Miller said. “We played well. We didn’t play our best, though. We should be in the playoffs. We should have a better record, but it is what it is.”
The 6-4 Miller’s shot-blocking ability, without getting into foul trouble, has been an asset for Riverhead.
“It’s pretty hard to get the ball over him because he’s long,” said Davender.
So, what was Miller’s take on the season?
“A roller-coaster ride,” the junior said. “It started off going up and then just came right back down.”
Photo caption: The Riverhead Blue Waves line up for the national anthem prior to their final game. (Credit: Bob Liepa)