12/17/10 8:53pm
12/17/2010 8:53 PM

MASTIC BEACH — Much like the beginning of her Riverhead High School basketball career, Kaila-Riane Nazario’s start against the William Floyd Colonials was not much to talk about.

But once the sophomore forward got going, she was difficult to stop Friday night.

Nazario scored two points in the opening quarter, but found her way the rest of the non-league game, pumping in 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half of a 60-43 win at Floyd.

Junior forward Melodee Riley added 10 points and junior guard Jalyn Brown eight as the Blue Waves (3-2, 1-0 Suffolk County League III) converted 23 of 29 foul shots for a sizzling 79.3 percentage.

“That’s pretty exceptional,” Riverhead Coach David Spinella said of the free-throw shooting.

But then again so was the Blue Waves’ accomplishment.

“Floyd’s a very good team,” Spinella added. “They’re going to be tops in League I. So this is a big win for us on the road on a Friday night.”

Spinella said his team played “better in the second half. We avoided the second-chance points. We had to keep them off the boards and we stopped turning the ball over. Those were the big things.”

So was Nazario’s performance, although it took the 5-foot-9 transfer from Williamsburg, Va., a while to adapt to a new system and a new team.

“I’m fitting in good,” she said. “It was eh in the beginning, but I worked to get my spot. I had to learn all about them, what they did. I had to learn how they play.”

After scoring only four points in Riverhead’s opening two losses, Nazario broke out with 17 points in a 62-48 victory at Patchogue-Medford on Dec. 14.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” she said. “I enjoy it. It’s a new style of play. The rules are different. The speed is faster.”

Nazario showcased her talent and potential Friday by scoring in a variety of ways, including a layup, a five-foot shot, off a rebound, off a turnover, from the corner and one three-point shot. She also was a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line.

Spinella has liked what he has seen, but realized there is plenty of room for improvement.

“She’s going to be a good player,” he said. “Offensively, she’s got some things she can do. She definitely needs to improve defensively and then she will be complete. We’ve all got a lot of work to do.”

Nazario and Riverhead weren’t fazed by the fact that Floyd started five seniors, including forward Monique Walker (team-high 17 points). The Blue Waves don’t have a senior on their roster and their starting lineup is dominated by juniors and sophomores.

“We just go out and play and try our hardest,” Nazario said. “We don’t get intimidated. We just work for our best. We work to get our spot.”

Riverhead stumbled early on. Brown hit a three-point shot nine seconds into the game, Floyd (0-5, 0-1 League III) went on a 12-2 tear to grab a 12-5 advantage with 3 minutes 34 seconds left in the first quarter.

“We’ve been starting out a little rough,” Riley said. “But once we get into it we get better as we go along.”

Added Nazario, “We just get back on our feet and do what we have to do.”

The Blue Waves pressured defensively and pulled to within 15-13 by the end of the period. Nazario asserted herself with six points in the second quarter as Riverhead took the lead for good, 29-28, on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Shaniece Allen (six points) with 26 seconds remaining.

Riverhead lived on the foul line in the third quarter. The visitors scored only one field goal, but converted 11 of 14 free throws — Nazario put away her six attempts — as they extended their lead to 42-36 by the end of the period.

“It’s not like that in every game,” Nazario said of the team’s foul shooting. “We’ve been working on it, getting it together.”

“If we started missing, those could add up in the end if we lose,” said Riley, who put away 6 of 9 free-throw attempts. “We have to make sure we get those in because they always count.”

After Floyd moved within 45-39 at 2:10 of the fourth quarter, Riverhead pulled away with a 7-0 burst in a 1:58 span behind Brown’s four points for a 52-39 lead.

Riverhead opened its League III season Tuesday with a 69-29 home win over the Newfield Wolverines.

“It’s early,” Spinella said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We just can’t hang our heads on this one game. We’ve got to go back to work on Sunday morning and do what we’ve got to do.”

12/11/10 11:40pm
12/11/2010 11:40 PM


GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jalyn Brown of Riverhead attempted an off-balance shot while Deer Park's Kelsey Dillon (No. 21) and Felicia LaSorsa (No. 15) defended.


Falcons can fly. The ones from Deer Park are no different.

Height is often the center of attention in the basketball world while the quality of quickness sometimes goes underappreciated in the shadows. Some see that as an injustice.

“Quickness is always better than height,” said Naysha Trent, a sophomore guard for the Riverhead Blue Waves.

Riverhead, a quick team in its own right, learned firsthand just how quick Deer Park is on Saturday. Deer Park charged out to a fast start, host Riverhead fell into a 15-3 hole it could not emerge from, and the Falcons soared, 64-56, in the Peconic Classic East End-West End Challenge. Deer Park moved to 2-0 while Riverhead dropped to 0-2.

All four of the Peconic Classic’s games went in favor of western Suffolk County teams on Saturday. The Babylon Panthers (43-40 over the Mount Sinai Mustangs), the Walt Whitman Wildcats (44-36 over the William Floyd Colonials) and the Wyandanch Warriors (47-33 over the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats) all posted wins at Riverhead High School.

“The way we came out of the gate today was unbelievable,” said Deer Park Coach Mike Gennaro, whose team hit 9 of its first 12 field-goal attempts. “We came out running. We came out on fire.”

Deer Park had Riverhead on its heels at times. The Blue Waves never led or tied the score, although they did pull to within one point of Deer Park when a pair of free throws by Trent made it 24-23 with 3 minutes 25 seconds left in the first half. But then Deer Park pulled away again.

“It was the first quarter that messed us up,” said Trent.

Gennaro, who is in his 14th year coaching Deer Park, said this is probably the quickest team he has had. Deer Park is quick on the transition. After a rebound, it’s one pass, another pass and a layup. Just like that.

“Their team is fast,” said Riverhead point guard Jalyn Brown.


GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shaniece Allen of Riverhead tried to steal the ball from Deer Park's Shayna Robinson.


It’s one of the reasons why Deer Park has its hopes set on reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and winning the Suffolk County League IV championship. The Falcons hadn’t won a league title since 1978. A league crown is seen as a realistic possibility. Four of the team’s starters are in their fourth varsity season.

“We’re good,” said Deer Park guard Drea Desvignes, who struck for 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals. “We’re not selfish. We have a lot of good shooters, so I can kick it out to anybody, and they can shoot it. And we crash the boards a lot.”

Plus, Deer Park has Kelsey Dillon back. That’s a big plus.

Dillon, a junior forward, broke her hand in the first game of last season and missed the remaining games.

“It kind of derailed us last year,” Gennaro said. “She makes a big difference. She cleans up the boards.”

Dillon did her part on Saturday, producing a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds while Felicia LaSorsa added nine points for the winners.

Deer Park suffered a blow on Dec. 7 when one of its top rebounders, Nicole Alvarez, a five-year varsity player, tore a meniscus in a game against the William Floyd Colonials. “We’ll find out this week how long she’s going to be out,” said Gennaro.

What helped keep Riverhead as close as it was was its 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Four of those threes came from Trent. She was Riverhead’s top scorer with a career-high 23 points. “I’m surprised myself,” said Trent.

But not Brown. Brown, who contributed 17 points and five assists, said of Trent: “She’s a shooter. If I pass her the ball, I know she’s going to shoot it. That’s all I’ve known her to be. I’ve known her since we were little kids, and all she wanted to do was shoot, and that’s all she did tonight.”

Another Riverheader, Shaniece Allen, was held to only two points, uncharacteristically low for her. But Allen also had nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and a blocked shot.

It was the quickness factor, though, that fell in Deer Park’s favor, along with a dash of depth.

“We’re deeper this year,” Gennaro said. “We have a lot of kids who can contribute. I’m using the bench a lot more than I’ve used in the past, and it’s great. It keeps the morale up of the team. Everyone’s contributing.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

12/11/10 5:23pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jalyn Brown of Riverhead attempted an off-balance shot while Deer Park's Kelsey Dillon (No. 21) and Felica LaSorsa (No. 15) defended.

Falcons can fly. The ones from Deer Park are no different.

Height is often the center of attention in the basketball world while the quality of quickness sometimes goes underappreciated in the shadows. Some see that as an injustice.

“Quickness is always better than height,” said Naysha Trent, a sophomore guard for the Riverhead Blue Waves.

Riverhead, a quick team in its own right, learned firsthand just how quick Deer Park is on Saturday. Deer Park charged out to a fast start, host Riverhead fell into a 15-3 hole it could not emerge from, and the Falcons soared, 64-56, in the Peconic Classic East End-West End Challenge. Deer Park moved to 2-0 while Riverhead dropped to 0-2.

All four of the Peconic Classic’s games went in favor of western Suffolk County teams on Saturday. The Babylon Panthers (43-40 over the Mount Sinai Mustangs), the Walt Whitman Wildcats (44-36 over the William Floyd Colonials) and the Wyandanch Warriors (47-33 over the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats) all posted wins at Riverhead High School.

“The way we came out of the gate today was unbelievable,” said Deer Park Coach Mike Gennaro, whose team hit 9 of its first 12 field-goal attempts. “We came out running. We came out on fire.”

Deer Park had Riverhead on its heels at times. The Blue Waves never led or tied the score, although they did pull to within one point of Deer Park when a pair of free throws by Trent made it 24-23 with 3 minutes 25 seconds left in the first half. But then Deer Park pulled away again.

“It was the first quarter that messed us up,” said Trent.

Gennaro, who is in his 14th year coaching Deer Park, said this is probably the quickest team he has had. Deer Park is quick on the transition. After a rebound, it’s one pass, another pass and a layup. Just like that.

“Their team is fast,” said Riverhead point guard Jalyn Brown.

It’s one of the reasons why Deer Park has its hopes set on reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and winning the Suffolk County League IV championship. The Falcons hadn’t won a league title since 1978. A league crown is seen as a realistic possibility. Four of the team’s starters are in their fourth varsity season.

“We’re good,” said Deer Park guard Drea Desvignes, who struck for 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals. “We’re not selfish. We have a lot of good shooters, so I can kick it out to anybody, and they can shoot it. And we crash the boards a lot.”

Plus, Deer Park has Kelsey Dillon back. That’s a big plus.

Dillon, a junior forward, broke her hand in the first game of last season and missed the remaining games.

“It kind of derailed us last year,” Gennaro said. “She makes a big difference. She cleans up the boards.”

Dillon did her part on Saturday, producing a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds while Felicia LaSorsa added nine points for the winners.

Deer Park suffered a blow on Dec. 7 when one of its top rebounders, Nicole Alvarez, a five-year varsity player, tore a meniscus in a game against the William Floyd Colonials. “We’ll find out this week how long she’s going to be out,” said Gennaro.

What helped keep Riverhead as close as it was was its 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range. Four of those threes came from Trent. She was Riverhead’s top scorer with a career-high 23 points. “I’m surprised myself,” said Trent.

But not Brown. Brown, who contributed 17 points and five assists, said of Trent: “She’s a shooter. If I pass her the ball, I know she’s going to shoot it. That’s all I’ve known her to be. I’ve known her since we were little kids, and all she wanted to do was shoot, and that’s all she did tonight.”

Another Riverheader, Shaniece Allen, was held to only two points, uncharacteristically low for her. But Allen also had nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and a blocked shot.

It was the quickness factor, though, that fell in Deer Park’s favor, along with a dash of depth.

“We’re deeper this year,” Gennaro said. “We have a lot of kids who can contribute. I’m using the bench a lot more than I’ve used in the past, and it’s great. It keeps the morale up of the team. Everyone’s contributing.”

bliepa@timesreview.com