01/16/14 8:19pm
01/16/2014 8:19 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Deon Shorter goes up for a contested shot Thursday against Smithtown West.

A last-second 3-pointer from Charles Manning misfired Thursday night as the Riverhead boys basketball team lost in overtime to Smithtown West, 65-63.

Brandon Tolliver led the Blue Waves with 19 points. Riverhead fell to 2-6 in League III and can only afford one more loss in league to keep postseason aspirations alive.

Three other players reached double figures Thursday. Manning and Tyrese Kerr had 12 each. Ryun Moore added 11.

The Blue Waves trailed by three in the final minute before a Tolliver 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that sent the game into overtime. Riverhead trailed by seven at halftime before outscoring the Bulls, 19-12 in the third quarter.

Smithtown (6-5, 4-3 League III) had four players in double figures, led by Tyler Weigl. Riverhead returns to action Tuesday at North Babylon.


ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTOS

01/14/14 10:29pm
01/14/2014 10:29 PM

BLUE WAVES 58, LIONS 51

The Riverhead High School boys basketball team certainly lived dangerously on Tuesday night.

Every time the Blue Waves grabbed a 10-point lead, West Islip would come charging back to make it close and interesting.

But when push came to shove in the fourth quarter, they withstood a late comeback attempt by the Lions and recorded a 58-51 win in Suffolk County League III action in West Islip.

“We got that 10-point lead, it came down to six, 10, six. We couldn’t get it to 15,” coach John Rossetti said. “To their credit, they knocked down a couple of three-pointers in a row to cut it tight. You know what? We finished them off when we had to.”

Coupled with a 64-30 victory over Centereach last Thursday, the Blue Waves (3-8, 2-5) won back-to-back games for the first time this season as West Islip fell to 1-10, 1-6.

“You now what? We’ll take it,” Rossetti said. “It’s another win, another notch in our belt. It wasn’t our best effort over all, but we’re finding a way to win and that’s an improvement from earlier in the year.

“Give the kids credit. They’ve never been down on themselves. They’re continuing to work. They’re going to continue to push. It’s nice getting the two wins, don’t get me wrong, but this team knows there’s more in them.”

Especially for a young team. The Blue Waves started and finished with three sophomores.

“It’s not about sophomores, it’s about team,” Rossetti said. “There’s a lot of kids who came off the bench who gave us good, quality minutes. That’s what a team’s about.”

Still, the sophomores did make a contribution. Guard/forward Charles Manning led the way with 12 points, adding 7 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. Forward Tyrese Kerr added 7 points and 6 rebounds. Lintell Brown came off the bench to score 9 points.

“He’s fearless,” Rossetti said of Manning. “He’s a tough ball player and he’s long. He’s deceptive.”

When he was asked about his favorite part of the game, Manning replied, “Defense, because defense wins games and often sells tickets.”

Rather than just talk about it, the 6-foot Manning demonstrated it by blocking 6-foot-5 center Bill Hellem’s shot with 1 minute 24 seconds remaining in the third quarter to preserve a 41-31 lead.

“He got up there, one that he took off the rim basically and he got another key one when they were on a two-on-one fast break and he came in and erased another shot,” Rossetti said. “That takes four points off the board. In a close ball game like that, you don’t recognize it early, but you look at it late. They were crucial plays.”

The Blue Waves led for virtually the entire game. They enjoyed a 13-3 advantage early in the second quarter before West Islip whittled it to 15-12 with 2:24 remaining. But the Blue Waves ran off an 9-0 spurt and a 14-4 tear to go into the locker room with a 29-16 lead. Brown had 5 points during that surge, which saw five Riverhead players score.

In the third quarter, West Islip came within 33-29 with 5:10 left before the Blue Waves rattled off 8 straight points — 5 on Deon Shorter’s five free throws en route to his 10-point game.

In the fourth period, the Lions made the visitors sweat a bit again, moving within 49-43 with 4:16 remaining, but the Blue Waves managed to score a couple of key baskets and sink a few foul shots down the stretch, including two by Manning to seal the game with 20 seconds remaining.

“It was pretty frustrating,” senior forward Brandon Tolliver said about Riverhead’s inability to pull away. “But we knew what we had to do defensively to try to help us hold the lead.”

Riverhead had another encouraging performance from Tolliver, who had been slowed down in his recovery from a knee injury with a knock on his left knee. He contributed 10 points, 9 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.

“I’m coming back slowly, but surely,” he said. “I feel better, feel great actually. I’m grabbing more rebounds and I feel that I’m being more active that what I was before the knock-up with my knee.”

01/10/14 7:08pm
01/10/2014 7:08 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Danny Hughes scored 27 points in a win over Bayport-Blue Point Friday.

WILDCATS 63, PHANTOMS 56

Danny Hughes is listed at 6-foot-5, the tallest player on the Shoreham-Wading River roster. By his height alone, it would seem Hughes would best be served under the rim.

But as Hughes showed Friday afternoon against Bayport-Blue Point in a pivotal League VI game, he can do a lot more than simply clog the middle. Even as the tallest player, Hughes plays more like a guard, a big-man who can dribble on the perimeter and slash to the basket. He can also hit from the outside.

Against the Phantoms, Hughes did a little of everything, pouring in a game-high 27 points in a 63-56 victory at Shoreham-Wading River High School. And since he is the big man, he grabbed 19 rebounds.

“Danny’s a mismatch for a lot of coaches,” Culhane said. “I play him like a guard and a lot of teams don’t have a guy that’s either big enough to stay with him or strong enough if I post him up inside.”

Coming off a disappointing loss to Miller Place Tuesday, the Wildcats (6-4) bounced back with a resounding victory in a game they nearly led wire-to-wire. Bayport briefly took its only lead of the game early in the third quarter at 28-27. But Shoreham answered with an 11-0 run to push the lead to double digits.

The Wildcats evened their league record at 3-3 at the midway point of the league season. If the Wildcats can at least match that record over the second half of the season, it would guarantee them a playoff spot.

The Wildcats welcomed back junior Jonah Caldwell to the lineup. A 6-foot-3 forward who adds a huge element to the Wildcats on both ends of the court, Caldwell tore a ligament in his right hand during a practice in early December. He returned to the lineup Friday and, while rusty at first, showed why he’s a huge part of Shoreham’s lineup.

Caldwell finished with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half.

Shoreham opened the game hot from the outside. The Wildcats drained four 3-pointers in the first quarter, which opened up the rest of their offense. They finished the game 19 of 43 from the field (44 percent). The Wildcats limited Bayport (8-3, 3-2 League VI) to 35 percent shooting (22 of 62).

Bayport’s Connor Panzner led the Phantoms with 26 points.

01/07/14 10:10pm
01/07/2014 10:10 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck junior Will Gildersleeve scoring 2 of his career-high 30 points against Bishop McGann-Mercy on Tuesday night.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck junior Will Gildersleeve scoring 2 of his career-high 30 points against Bishop McGann-Mercy on Tuesday night.

TUCKERS 85, MONARCHS 61

The Mattituck Tuckers have the formula for winning. Now, it may not be a groundbreaking concept, and it isn’t easy to achieve, but it is mighty effective. Put four players in double figures and scratch another check mark in the win column.

It’s not common for a high school boys basketball team to have four double-figure scorers in one game, so it’s hardly surprising that when it happens, a team’s chance of winning increases considerably. It hasn’t failed the Tuckers yet. In four of their nine games this season they have had four players in double figures, and in each of them the Tuckers have won.

Imagine that.

The most recent occurrence was Tuesday night. With career-high point totals from junior Will Gildersleeve and sophomore Joe Tardif, the Tuckers proved to be too much for host Bishop McGann-Mercy, as the 85-61 final score attested. Gildersleeve rang up 30 points and Tardif dropped in 22. Both players knocked down four 3-pointers apiece on a night when not many shots didn’t fall for the Tuckers (7-2, 4-1 Suffolk County League VII).

Also reaching double figures for Mattituck were Gene Allen with 14 points and Chris Dwyer with 13. Allen also hauled in 15 rebounds to go with 8 assists and 3 steals.

The Monarchs (1-7, 0-5), who took their fifth straight loss, were led by Joe Jeskie with 19 points, Kurt Ryder with 14 and Nykel Reese with 11.

Mattituck’s offensive balance makes it a handful to defend and makes it hard for opponents to focus on any single player without paying a price for it. Plus, the Tuckers are even tougher when they shoot like they did on Tuesday. They connected on 51.6 percent (33 of 64) of their shots from the field. Not only that, but from beyond the 3-point arc, they were 11 of 22.

Mattituck opened the game with a 7-0 lead and never trailed.

The Monarchs turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the third quarter — a product of Mattituck’s press. Allen followed up a teammate’s missed shot with a two-handed dunk for a 50-28 lead 2 minutes 44 seconds into the quarter. The Tuckers were relatively safe the rest of the way, although from the point of Allen’s dunk on, Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood was unhappy with his team’s defense.

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/07/14 8:24pm

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Michael Sheehan drives to the basket against Miller Place Tuesday.

PANTHERS 53, WILDCATS 45

In a league that features one of the top teams in the county in Amityville, as well as tough teams like Bayport-Blue Point and John Glenn, squeezing out enough wins to reach .500 and qualify for the postseason is no easy task.

“I always tell people, just because it’s League VI, people don’t realize how good this league is,” said Shoreham coach Kevin Culhane.

That’s what made Tuesday’s matchup at Miller Place a critical game, even though the season is still young. The Wildcats and Panthers are both teams in the middle of the pack of League VI. When the season ends, the teams could very well be neck-and-neck for a final spot in the playoffs.

The Wildcats entered with the upper hand, with two league wins already in hand. But the Panthers snapped a three-game winning streak for Shoreham, taking down the Wildcats 53-45 at Miller Place High School.

In their first game of the new year, the Wildcats’ hot shooting that had propelled them in their previous wins dissipated early against Miller Place. The Panthers raced out to a 12-3 first-quarter lead as the Wildcats dug themselves a double-digit deficit before some shots started to finally fall.

“We’ve been shooting the ball very well lately,” Culhane said. “Today we didn’t. Give Miller Place credit. There were a lot of things we didn’t do, executing wise.”

Early foul trouble forced Culhane to go to his bench early in the first quarter. And the Wildcats shot a ghastly 1-for-13 in the opening quarter.

“I was afraid of keeping the starters in and getting the third foul,” Culhane said. “That really hurt us early on.”

Miller Place center Alex Frusco created havoc for Shoreham in the paint and on the boards. Frusco finished with a game-high 18 points.

Culhane said he knew Frusco was capable of a big night.

“I thought a few times when we had to go small, he had a couple rebounds and put-backs,” he said. “I think that’s what kind of hurt us.”

The Wildcats (5-4, 2-3 League VI) trailed by as many as 14 late in the second quarter. Twice the Wildcats got their deficit down to six, but each time the Panthers (3-4, 2-2 League VI) responded with a run of their own. A basket by Daniel Hughes (10 points) and two free throws from Sean Condron trimmed Miller Place’s lead to 39-33 early in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats were starting to find the range after connecting on three treys in the previous quarter.

But the Panthers withstood the surge and ran off eight straight points to extend their lead back to double digits.

“I thought we fought back really hard and competed down to the end,” Culhane said.

Miller Place got 17 points from Liam Walsh off the bench. Senior Zach Makoske led Shoreham in scoring with 11 points. Michael Sheehan added six and Condron had five.

joew@timesreview.com

01/06/14 10:30pm
01/06/2014 10:30 PM

BULLS 74, BLUE WAVES 54

Senior forward Ryan Ingarozza scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter to lift Smithtown East to a 74-54 win over host Riverhead in a Suffolk County League III boys basketball game on Monday night.

Ingarozza, who finished with 7 rebounds, helped the visitors outscore the Blue Waves, 30-10, in that period to turn a 30-19 halftime lead into a 60-29 advantage. Smithtown East improved to 6-3 over all and 4-0 in the league. The Blue Waves (1-7, 0-4) dropped their seventh consecutive game after defeating Bayport-Blue Point, 72-66, in their season opener on Dec. 9.

Senior guard Dylan Marquez connected on three treys in the third quarter and finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Sophomore Charles Manning led Riverhead with 17 points.

12/30/13 7:51pm
12/30/2013 7:51 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead senior Deon Shorter scored 17 points in the Blue Waves’ loss to Sachem East Monday.

FLAMING ARROWS 62, BLUE WAVES 57

With each successive stop on defense, the crowd grew louder and louder, waiting for the inevitable big basket from Riverhead that would turn the game in the home team’s favor.

For more than five minutes into the fourth quarter of a non-league game against Sachem East Monday night, the Blue Waves held the Flaming Arrows to two points in the quarter. Riverhead trimmed what had been a 10-point deficit earlier in the half down to four. But with each stop on defense came a missed opportunity on the other end of the court.

And despite hitting just three field goals in the final quarter, Sachem East cruised from the free-throw line during the final two minutes to escape Riverhead with a 62-57 victory.

“We had a sense on the bench that the big shot was coming,” said Riverhead coach John Rossetti. “It was like the ball was slipping out. The ball wasn’t going our way tonight.”

The Blue Waves dropped their sixth straight game after a season-opening win over Bellport. As the league season gets into full swing beginning at the end of this week, the Blue Waves will have little time left to right the ship before postseason aspirations begin to fade.

Riverhead is 0-3 in League III going into Friday’s game against Smithtown East.

“We’re a young team with very few kids that have playing time varsity experience,” Rossetti said. “The scoreboard isn’t showing it, but these kids are getting significantly better. We’re right there. We’re going to be OK.”

Senior point guard Deon Shorter led Riverhead with 17 points, matching his season high set twice before. Sachem East had four players in double figures, led by Ryan Cole’s 17.

The Blue Waves trailed throughout the game, briefly taking a one-point lead at 23-22 in the second quarter. The Flaming Arrows opened the second half on a 11-3 run to open up their biggest lead of the game at 40-30. The Blue Waves got caught twice giving up open looks on 3-pointers and the Arrows — who didn’t shoot particularly well from deep — burnt them on both possessions. They were 2-12 from 3-point range until the back-to-back long balls. Sachem finished the game 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Riverhead switched between a zone and man defense during the game. In both sets at times, the Blue Waves lost track of defenders and gave up easy hoops.

“We have some lapses out there and when we go into lapses we get into this rut,” Rossetti said. “Our weak side defense in man-to-man needs help and our on-ball pressure, we need to do a better job of pushing guys to a side. We’re letting them dictate where to go.”

It hasn’t helped in recent games that senior Brandon Tolliver has been slowed by a deep bone bruise on his knee that he suffered in a collision earlier this month. Tolliver had offseason surgery following a torn ACL.

The latest bone bruise has limited his explosiveness.

“He’s hobbling out there and he’s giving it his all,” Rossetti said. “But he’s not the Brandon we’re used to seeing. I give the kid credit. He’s trying to be a trooper.”

Tolliver finished with seven points. Sophomores Tyrese Kerr and Charles Manning both scored nine.

Finding the right rotations has been the challenge early on in the season for Rossetti. He’s already used multiple starting lineups. Center Ethan Greenidge started in Monday’s game, but didn’t see much action in the second half as the Blue Waves tried to better match up against the smaller Arrows.

“They were bringing him out way up high, so it kind of took his size and negated it,” Rossetti said. “So we had to go with a smaller lineup.”

Jeremiah Cheatom came off the bench to kick in 10 points, mostly on second chance buckets, which has been his speciality going back to last season.

Cheatom missed an easy one under the basket about halfway through the fourth quarter that would have cut Sachem’s lead to two. It was just one example of missed opportunities for Riverhead.

Where the Blue Waves really hurt themselves was at the free-throw line. They finished 7 of 16 for 44 percent. Sachem was 12 of 20 for 60 percent.

joew@timesreview.com

12/28/13 7:00am
12/28/2013 7:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Markim Austin rises for one-handed dunk Tuesday that put the Blue Waves ahead by seven in the fourth quarter against Smithtown West.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Markim Austin rises for one-handed dunk that put the Blue Waves ahead by seven in the fourth quarter against Smithtown West.

The Riverhead boys basketball team entered the 2012-13 season with lofty expectations as an experienced core of players returned. And the Blue Waves didn’t disappoint, posting a 12-2 record in League III and clinching the program’s first league title since 1997.

It was a thrilling season throughout, highlighted by a 72-71 victory over Smithtown West early in February that guaranteed the Blue Waves at least a share of the league title.

Riverhead got 20 points from Markim Austin in the win in front of a near-capacity crowd at Riverhead High School. The Blue Waves’ season ended on a bitter note with a loss to Longwood in the first round of the playoffs, but the season nevertheless was one to remember.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.