09/22/12 6:25pm
09/22/2012 6:25 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jeremiah Cheatom, trying to find a way past North Babylon’s Eric Marzocca, scored three touchdowns for Riverhead.


Teams visiting the dog pound, the unofficial name for the home field of the North Babylon High School football team, have known for years what to expect from the Bulldogs: ground and pound.

North Babylon runs the ball, and runs it well. Passing is something of a rarity for the Bulldogs. It’s the sort of approach one might expect from a former C.W. Post lineman like Terry Manning, who is in his 22nd year as North Babylon’s head coach.

“That’s what we do,” said Manning.

And what Riverhead does offensively is nothing like it. The Blue Waves utilize a spread out, uptempo attack that isn’t afraid to use the aerial route for first downs and touchdowns.

The two contrasting offensive styles couldn’t be much more different, and that made Saturday’s game all the more intriguing. But what made it even more interesting still was the Bulldogs’ refusal to retreat to their doghouse, lay down and call it a day after falling behind by 27 points in the third quarter. North Babylon pulled to within six points of visiting Riverhead before the Blue Waves closed out a 42-28 win with a late touchdown run by Jeremiah Cheatom, his second of the half.

Asked if he grew concerned when he saw North Babylon chomping away at his team’s lead, Riverhead coach Leif Shay said, “My hair has been gray since the beginning of the season.”

Cheatom had three touchdowns on the day, two of them coming on runs. He rushed for 146 yards from 23 carries. On the Suffolk County Division II game’s first play from scrimmage, Cheatom was on the receiving end of a 64-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Bitzer.

Riverhead (2-1) removed some of its starters, including Bitzer, from the game after Cheatom’s six-yard touchdown run and Devrim Kuckuk’s extra point gave the Blue Waves what looked like a commanding 34-7 lead with 7 minutes 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead’s Quinn Funn using one hand to pull in a pass, despite the efforts of North Babylon’s Jake Conner, for a 62-yard touchdown reception.

“The first quarter and a half, we pretty much were nonexistent,” Manning said. “We just were sleeping out there.”

It looked like the game was virtually over, but it wasn’t.

Jordan Myers of North Babylon (2-1) ran for two second-half touchdowns, the second of which was set up by Danny Gambardella’s successful onside kick, which Daquan Faulk recovered for the Bulldogs.

North Babylon, known for rarely passing, made things interesting with a touchdown pass, of all things. Jake Conner evaded defenders before finding Eric Marzocca for a seven-yard pass to the end zone with 3:44 to go in the game. Gambardella’s kick cut Riverhead’s lead to 34-28.

But the Blue Waves responded to the challenge. On the next play from scrimmage, Cheatom shook off tacklers up the middle and bolted for a 52-yard gain, giving Riverhead first and goal at the North Babylon 4-yard line. The next play saw Cheatom follow Matt Hejmej’s block into the end zone. Bitzer completed a pass to Jaron Greenidge for the two-point conversion and a more comfortable 14-point lead with 2:52 remaining.

“We just needed to put the nail in the coffin,” said Quinn Funn, who played wide receiver and cornerback for Riverhead.

The result was pretty much sealed when Greenidge intercepted a pass on North Babylon’s first offensive play after that. Riverhead picked up a first down and then ran out the clock.

Bitzer had a super game. He went 16 of 21, passing for 283 yards, 242 of them coming in the first half. In addition to his 64-yard touchdown pass to Cheatom, he also had a 62-yard scoring connection with Funn, who made a nifty one-handed catch before taking off toward the end zone. In addition, Bitzer ran for two touchdowns himself.

Bitzer may have thought his day was done when he was pulled from the game with a 27-point lead. But then he was reinserted when things started getting dicey for the top-seeded Blue Waves, who generated 432 yards of offense.

“It’s a hard place to win at,” Bitzer said. “It’s definitely a hard place to come in and [win]. A ground-and-pound team like them, you definitely have to keep fighting all four quarters.”

Riverhead’s defense received seven tackles apiece from Nickolas Ross and Hejmej. Ross might have had the biggest hit of the day, and probably the loudest, when he delivered a crunching blow on Myers in the third quarter.

Melijah Purvis ran the ball 17 times for North Babylon, picking up 100 yards. Connor Slane had nine tackles and a sack for the Bulldogs.

In this age of open offense, even North Babylon is adjusting. The Bulldogs threw the ball 10 times and ran it 41 times.

“Leif does a great job over there,” Manning said. “We’ve had some great battles with them over the years. For us this year, we’re still a team that’s trying to find ourselves a little bit. There’s a lot of new kids who haven’t played before, so it was a challenge for us to come out and play a quality team like this.”

What did it mean for Riverhead to finish the game strong?

“I think it just shows we have a lot of resolve,” Shay told reporters. “We’re not going to quit. We’re going to keep fighting.”

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09/22/12 1:42pm

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead quarterback Ryan Bitzer leads the Blue Waves against North Babylon today.

Riverhead (1-1) vs. North Babylon (2-0)

Division II

North Babylon H.S., 2 p.m.

After dropping their first game of the season last week at West Islip, the Riverhead Blue Waves return to action this afternoon at North Babylon. The Blue Waves fell 16-13 on a last-second field goal against West Islip.

The Bulldogs came into the season as the No. 6 seed and opened up with victories over Half Hollow Hills West and Centereach. The Bulldogs have always been known as a team that loves to run the ball. Against Hills West the Bulldogs tallied 275 yards on the ground. But against Centereach quarterback Jake Connor also threw for two touchdowns, proving opponents need to respect the aerial attack.

Riverhead and North Babylon did not meet last year.

To follow all the action live from North Babylon, click on the live blog below. Former Riverhead Blue Wave Michael Hejmej, a Stony Brook University junior, will be providing all the action.

04/10/12 5:45pm
04/10/2012 5:45 PM

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | Riverhead's Jesse Patriss swings at the pitch against North Babylon Tuesday morning.


Senior first baseman Joe Stramm slammed a pair of home runs to help key North Babylon’s 12-6 win over visiting Riverhead in a baseball game on Tuesday morning.

Blue Waves coach Rob Maccone certainly could live with that.

What he could not accept was the free passes that the Bulldogs got, which helped the hosts grab a 5-0 first-inning lead in the Suffolk County League IV contest.

“Got to throw strikes, got to make them hit it,” he said. “I know this park is small. Still, let them hit it. That kid who hit two home runs, good for him. At least we let him hit it. You can’t get him out if you walk him.”

Coupled with 12 runners they left on base, the Blue Waves (3-3, 3-3) could never recover and get back into the game against the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-5).

“We left too many guys on base,” Maccone said. “We hit the ball decently. We left the bases loaded once, second and third once, and first and third in the seventh. You can’t win when you leave guys on base.”

Center fielder Matt Crohan, who turned out to be one of Riverhead’s bright spots — he was on base five times on three hits, a walk and a forceout, and scored twice — agreed.

“We’ve got to throw strikes,” he said. “If we throw strikes, we can field.

“Things just didn’t go our way today. We just got to hit the ball, put the ball in play. If we put the ball in play, kids will make mistakes. We’re all high school kids. Things happen.”

Things happened for North Babylon as the first inning set the game’s tone.

Crohan, who was left on base three times, was stranded at second in the top of the frame.

In the bottom of the inning, Mike Hinchy hit leadoff hitter Kenny Fils-Aime, who reached second base when catcher Kyle Trypuc’s pick-off attempt sailed over first baseman Tyler Carroll. Charlie O’Neill was hit by a pitch and Dan Gambardella loaded the bases on an infield single. Winning pitcher Carmine Vricciariella was hit by a pitch to force in the first run. Stramm’s sacrifice fly drove in another, followed by Tyler Schmitt’s run-scoring double and Mike Amandola’s two-run single.

“We didn’t pitch today,” Maccone said. “Mike Hinchy has been very good for us. He had a long layover. When you play five games in five days and you do the second game of the season, he couldn’t come back for the fifth game. So he hasn’t thrown over a week and a half. That’s tough for him.”

On the flip side, North Babylon coach Steve Corrado was delighted that his team showed some patience. “You know what? They were a little more selective in what they were swinging at today,” he said. “They didn’t chase any bad balls.”

The Blue Waves scored only once in the next inning — on third baseman John Wendt’s single — as the visitors left the bases loaded in the second inning.

“When you’re struggling and things are going wrong and one bad thing happens, it seems to pile on,” Corrado said. “When you have a positive inning and you come back and get out of the next inning with a lead, it just helps build up positive feelings.”

Stramm delivered his lethal blows in back-to-back innings. He clubbed a solo shot to right-center field to extend the lead to 6-1 in the third and clobbered a three-run shot to left for a commanding 10-1 advantage in the fourth.

Corrado, who inherited an inexperienced team that did not return one starter, admitted he was learning what each player can bring to the team.

“We only have 25 at-bats of experience coming back, so we’re all learning each other,” he said. “[Stramm] supposedly is one of our big hitters and he showed today why he is.”

Corrado, in his first season with the team, was happy to put one in the win column.

“It feels good because the kids are working really hard,” he said. “When you win, it feels like the hard work is paying off.”

The Blue Waves will get two more shots at the Bulldogs. They will host them today before completing the three-game series at West Babylon on Friday.

“We’re just going to come out and hopefully win the series,” Crohan said. “That’s what our goal is: one game at a time, get 11 wins and make the playoffs.”

01/28/12 8:00pm
01/28/2012 8:00 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's airborne guard, Shaniece Allen, looking to get a shot off against North Babylon's Makeda Nicholas, scored a game-high 23 points.


After a fine performance, the Riverhead girls basketball team turned in quite another performance, a victory dance.

Following their 58-45 victory over visiting North Babylon, and the postgame team meeting after it on Saturday night, the Blue Waves returned to the Riverhead High School court and put on quite a show for lingering fans. The Riverhead players danced to the playing of “Get Your Roll On,” much to the delight of spectators.

“At our team dinners, we just dance the whole time,” senior guard Jalyn Brown said. “We did it pretty well. All the other girls with no rhythm did it.”

Oh, and by the way, their basketball playing isn’t bad, either. The rest of Suffolk County League III can attest to that.

The first-place Blue Waves (13-1, 8-0) could dance for joy after their 13th straight win. With the result against second-place North Babylon (7-5, 6-2), coach Dave Spinella’s 100th career win, they have all but assured themselves of their first league championship since 2008 and seventh overall. Riverhead needs at least two wins from its remaining four league games to clinch a tie for first place, and at least three wins to win the title outright.

“We still have games to go, but we can do it,” Brown said. “This is our year.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jalyn Brown supplied 9 points and 7 assists to Riverhead's win over North Babylon.

While acknowledging that it was a big win, Spinella sounded a note of caution about the league crown. “We haven’t won anything yet,” he said. “You got to play every game. … We can’t take any games off. You never know what can happen.”

Riverhead beat North Babylon by 32 points on Jan. 3. North Babylon, the defending league champion, is no slouch, either, having won eight straight league titles, some of those in League IV.

On Saturday, Shaniece Allen scored 12 points during a 17-0 run that put Riverhead ahead, 21-12, in the second quarter.

“That was a big turnaround … knowing that we weren’t going to just let them come in and take what was ours,” Allen said. “It’s all about the heart and just wanting to win, just give it all we got for the whole 32 minutes and hope to come up with the W, and that’s what we did.”

A 20-2 spurt that started in the second quarter ended in the fourth with Riverhead ahead, 44-26. North Babylon cut that lead to nine points with a 10-0 run of its own, but the Bulldogs got no closer than that the rest of the way.

Allen, a superb talent who can shoot from the outside or drive to the basket, heard chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the Riverhead fans throughout the game, and for good reason. The junior guard struck for a game-high 23 points (17 in the first half) and hit four 3-point shots. Melodee Riley added 10 points, with Brown and Kaila-Riane Nazario providing 9 each. Brown had 7 assists.

North Babylon received 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 assists from Makeda Nicholas as well as 12 points from Teena Mobley.

Riverhead outrebounded the Bulldogs, 40-26, and 16-8 on the offensive boards.

Aside from league title implications, with every win, Riverhead’s playoff seeding looks to get better and better.

“This can be big,” said Allen.

One hundred wins is a nice milestone, too, but Spinella played it down.

“The 100 wins is just, you coach somewhere long enough and you have the players come through, you’re going to get there eventually,” said Spinella, who is in his ninth season as a varsity coach, all with Riverhead. “That’s secondary to what these kids did tonight. It’s all about them. They played fantastic. They played hard.”

Riverhead players praised Spinella for what he has accomplished.

“He’s really good as a coach,” Allen said. “He’s disciplined. … He’s cool. He’s joking around, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. He knows what he’s doing.”

Like their coach, the Riverhead players seem to know when it’s time to go to work, and when it’s time to have fun.

It was a slightly amused Spinella who stood off to the side and watched his players do their dance, something they have never done before in public.

So, coach, what did you think about the dancing?

“That was the first time I’ve seen them dance,” Spinella said. “It was a little much.”

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10/21/11 6:53pm
10/21/2011 6:53 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's Fatima Brown attempted a block against North Babylon's Valerie Amengual.

BLUE WAVES 25, 25, 25, BULLDOGS 21, 20, 14

The Riverhead High School girls volleyball team might be thinking, if only the entire season was played against North Babylon, then things could be different.

But, of course, that is not how it works. In what has been a rough season in terms of wins and losses, the Blue Waves are 2-0 against North Babylon, but 0-10 against everyone else.

Both teams were in the same position before Friday’s match — at the bottom of Suffolk County League IV with identical records.

“It’s so much more frustrating that we’re losing when we know we can win, and I know we can win,” Riverhead outside hitter Mariah Messina said. “That’s the only frustrating part.”

The Blue Waves showed they can win on Friday. They surely have North Babylon’s number.

Sara Tucci, a sophomore setter, had eight assists and served for four aces for Riverhead, which scored a 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 win over the visiting Bulldogs, snapping a six-match losing streak.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead junior right-side hitter Megan Conroy tried to push the ball past North Babylon's Valerie Amengual.

“We knew we could do it, but it was kind of tough because they’re a really scrappy team, so they’re going to run and get everything,” said Riverhead middle hitter Fatima Brown.

Riverhead’s first-year coach, Amy Bullock, said she knew this would not be an easy season. But she has been heartened by the noticeable improvement she has seen over the course of the campaign. More accurate passing has allowed the Riverhead setters, Tucci and Alyssa Meyer, to work on quick sets, which can be almost unstoppable when run correctly.

“They definitely have improved greatly, and they deserve a win like this today,” Bullock said. “Their attitudes are great, and every day they come to practice ready to play, no matter what.”

Megan Brewer put all 20 of her serves in play for the Blue Waves (2-10, 2-8), and five of them were aces.

Valerie Amengual had five kills, three dinks and a block for North Babylon (1-11, 1-9). The Bulldogs have lost eight straight matches since they lost to Riverhead in five games on Sept. 22.

“It’s been a rough season,” said Greg Bentivegna, who is in his second year as North Babylon’s coach. “It’s been hard, but the bottom line is tonight they played good volleyball, and they’re fighting. I think it’s about learning to win because if you string it all together, they obviously have the ability to do it. It’s just making it all fit together.”

With only three seniors, the Bulldogs are battling inexperience. Riverhead has four seniors: outside hitter Kiana Wiwczar, Brown, Messina and Meyer.

“We are such a good team in practice,” Messina said. “We can kill the ball. We can do good plays. We can have so much fun and play together, but then when it comes to games, sometimes we lose our energy. We get frustrated.”

Frustration wasn’t in the lineup on Friday, though. While the record may not reflect it, the gains Riverhead has seen have been noticed by outsiders as well.

“I can see Riverhead’s improving; I can see our team’s improving, absolutely,” Bentivegna said. “You’re definitely coming along, but of course, every team is improving as you go along, so the games aren’t getting any easier. They’re definitely getting more difficult.”

Brown said Riverhead’s ability to work as a team and stay close has been a great help during trying times.

“On the court, it’s not six different girls,” she said. “It has to be like one girl playing, so you have to have that mentality that we’re all the same, we’re all good.”

Bullock said her team’s passing is 10 times better than it was earlier in the season. Looking at the larger picture, the Blue Waves should be in a better situation next year.

“I can’t say how much I’m proud of these girls just for sticking with it every day,” Bullock said. “With all this hard work, I know we’re going to end this season on the right note.”

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04/14/11 7:21pm
04/14/2011 7:21 PM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | North Babylon's Emily Catalano examined her passing options while Riverhead's Stacy Griffing closed in on her and Riverhead goalie Emily Parker watched.

In an odd sort of a way, it’s one of the greatest signs of respect that can be shown in high school girls lacrosse. A team will typically put more than one defender on the opponent’s most dangerous offensive player.

With that in mind, a great deal of flattery was directed Carolyn Carrera’s way on Thursday.

Carrera, a center middie for the Riverhead Blue Waves, found herself double-, triple-, and even quadruple-teamed sometimes by North Babylon Bulldogs determined to block her path to the goal. That extra attention is something the talented freshman has had to deal with since the season-opening game.

“It does get frustrating, but the only thing you can do is work through it,” Carrera said. “Any time you have that pressure, you’re getting better yourself. You’re learning from it and new ways to get out of it, so it’s all good in the long run.”

The Blue Waves would have loved to have won the game for their absent coach, but they’re convinced he would have been proud of their effort had he been there to see it.

But effort alone was not enough to stop North Babylon which, boosted by a five-goal, four-assist performance from Kelsey Hart, handed the Blue Waves a 17-3 loss at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

In picking up its third straight win, North Babylon (5-4, 3-3 in Suffolk County Division I) broke over the .500 mark for the first time this season. The Bulldogs received hat tricks from Ally Kennedy, Alyssa Ferro and Brit Rosino. Amanda Martinez chipped in a pair of assists. North Babylon goalkeeper Alyssa Chetti was credited with nine saves.

“We played great,” Hart, a junior middie, said. “We played together. Everyone got a chance to show what they had.”

North Babylon undoubtedly has a lot. Coach Stacey McPartland believes the Bulldogs have what it takes to make it into the playoffs for the first time in three years.

“We’re very physical,” she said. “We’re very run and gun. We’re hot-headed. We need to slow it down a little bit sometimes, you know, and think. Our lax IQ is a little shaky, but we have really good athletes and a lot of good runners.”

Riverhead (2-5, 1-5) was without Coach Rich D’Alsace. D’Alsace was in Florida because of a death in the family. In D’Alsace’s absence, the junior varsity coach, Tracey Carron, ran the team along with a varsity assistant coach, Jim Janecek.

The Blue Waves learned on Monday that a nephew of D’Alsace’s had died, and it had an impact.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Riverhead's Bethany Peters, left, and Megan Conroy chased North Babylon's Val Amengual.

“It’s on their minds and it’s on their hearts, definitely,” said Janecek, who expects D’Alsace to be back on the sideline in time for the next game on April 25 against the Smithtown East Bulls.

Determined to make a good showing for the missing coach, the Blue Waves played hard, but North Babylon’s superior experience and talent showed. The Bulldogs fired in the game’s first nine goals within the opening 14 minutes 33 seconds, and forged an 11-2 lead by halftime.

“It feels great, like the gears are clicking,” North Babylon senior defenseman Emily Abma said. “Everything’s coming together.”

The Bulldogs were also smart about how to handle Carrera: Give her as little room to maneuver as possible. They held Carrera to only one goal from four shots, and that is an achievement. Carrera also won 15 of 21 draws.

Bethany Peters had a goal and an assist for Riverhead, which also received a goal from Stacy Griffing.

“I could honestly say that I’m happy with how we played because we’re a team and we picked it up and we never let down,” Carrera said. “We played our hearts out.”

Considering that Riverhead is in its first varsity season, McPartland was impressed by some of the things she saw from the Blue Waves.

“They’re definitely better than some of the teams that we have played this year that have been around for a while so I take my hat off to them,” she said. “They have a lot of athletes. I feel like this is not really a lacrosse town, but once they get rolling and stuff, they’ll be somebody that we talk about.”

Meanwhile, Carrera is a player to talk about. She has scored a team-leading 20 goals to go with seven assists this season, and has a bright future ahead of her.

Janecek, who said Carrera was a picture of total focus before the game, said he is most impressed by what Carrera does on the practice field.

“Her intensity in practice is the same type of intensity as when she plays,” he said. “She is very, very competitive, and she does go very hard, looking to make herself better and also looking to make her team better.”

Carrera, who has put up six-goal games against the Center Moriches Red Devils and the Copiague Eagles, said that like her teammates, she is learning every game. She said the best way to get away from extra defenders is to run, and she did miles of running during Thursday’s game.

Carrera seemed to take joy that her goal against North Babylon came from a penalty shot. Following Riverhead’s 17-4 defeat to the East Islip Redmen on Tuesday, she worked on her penalty shots. “It was dark out and raining, but I went home and I practiced my side-armed shots and everything,” she said.

What is the biggest lesson Carrera has learned this season?

She said it is to keep her head up and understand that statistics aren’t important.

“It doesn’t matter as long as I’m playing my hardest and playing my heart out,” she said. “That’s all that matters.”

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01/29/11 9:43pm
01/29/2011 9:43 PM

GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO | Elwood Lamb III scored 17 points for Riverhead, but the Blue Waves lost in North Babylon.

NORTH BABYLON — Sometimes what a person doesn’t say will get the message across much better than words.

After his high school boys basketball team dropped a 63-50 Suffolk County League III loss to North Babylon on Saturday, Riverhead Coach John Rossetti was asked what he thought of the game. Rossetti took a long time before answering: “That’s all I can say right now. I guess dead silence.”

One certainly couldn’t blame Rossetti for being speechless. The Blue Waves, who have hopes of reaching the playoffs, endured a rough 24 hours, dropping an excruciating 41-36 home defeat to Newfield on Friday.

Following Saturday’s game, Riverhead dropped to 5-8, 4-5 in the league.

“We have to win three out of our next five,” Rossetti said. “Is it doable? Yes. But it is now an uphill battle. We’re digging ourselves a hole that we shouldn’t be in right now.”

The effort was there, but the execution wasn’t.

Rossetti wasn’t silent when he spoke to his team in the locker room afterwards.

Elwood Lamb III, who led Riverhead with 17 points, said Rossetti told the team “that we shouldn’t hang our heads. We’ve still got five games left in the season and that anything could happen. So just keep our heads up and work hard and try to win the next game.”

The next game is against Copiague at home on Thursday.

The Blue Waves’ shooting went cold at the worst times and they handled the ball like a hot potato. They committed 32 turnovers. North Babylon, which improved to 6-6, 3-5, made 26 turnovers, but the hosts didn’t hurt themselves as much.

“We had a lot of turnovers, a lot of missed layups,” Lamb said. “They had a lot of turnovers too, but they capitalized on our turnovers.”

The Blue Waves stumbled to a 19-7 first-quarter deficit, committing nine turnovers. North Babylon senior guard Preshod McCoy set the tone, scoring a layup off a steal for the game’s first two points. Before you knew it, the Bulldogs enjoyed a 12-2 advantage.

A striking transformation occurred in the second quarter. The Blue Waves looked confident, cut down on the turnovers and hit their shots. They outscored the Bulldogs, 23-8, buoyed by an amazing 17-3 run to close out the half.

“We had the intensity,” Lamb said.

GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO | Ryan Bitzer of Riverhead launched a jump shot.

Lamb scored 13 points in the period, including three three-point shots from the left corner within 82 seconds.

“I was just feeling it,” he said. “I was taking what the defense was giving me. I had to take advantage. My teammates helped me get open shots. We were able to capitalize and have a good second quarter.”

The Blue Waves went back to their early ways in the second half, throwing the ball away three times in the opening 40 seconds. North Babylon did not convert any of those turnovers into points, but they were missed opportunities.

“It sets the tone for the half,” Rossetti said. “We came out a little bit on the heels. They did a nice job of getting some transition buckets, which created opportunities for them to make it a helter-skelter type game.

“I thought we made a great run in the second quarter, got momentum. We had a lot of turnovers to begin with. Those crucial three, four minutes to start the second half, we have been lacking.”

Riverhead still was very much alive after Reggie Moore’s steal and layup sliced the lead to 48-47 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. But a cold shooting spell, combined with more turnovers, allowed the Bulldogs to go on an 11-0 spurt. Guard Devonte Green (game-high 27 points) scored nine points for the hosts in the quarter.

“We can’t just come out in the third quarter lackadaisical,” Lamb said. “That’s how we got behind. We’ve got to keep that same intensity we had in the first half.”

Trailing by double digits, the Blue Waves threw up many three-pointers to try to scrape their way back into the game. By the time Lamb hit their only three-pointer, North Babylon had secured a 59-50 lead with 59.4 seconds remaining.

“It’s a pattern that we’ve shown that we got dry for a long amount of time,” Rossetti said. “We just happen to miss shots at the bad time.”

01/29/11 7:20pm

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Naysha Trent of Riverhead, shown being defended by North Babylon's Casey Filippone, brought her side 10 points.

It’s going to take a lot to beat the North Babylon High School girls basketball team this season. Some might be tempted to say it will take a complete performance for four quarters, but then again, the Bulldogs were extended beyond that by the Riverhead Blue Waves on Saturday, and yet that still wasn’t enough.

North Babylon survived a furious challenge by Riverhead to maintain its unbeaten record and give a major boost to its bid for an eighth straight league championship. With six players (three from each side) fouling out, North Babylon prevailed in a double-overtime thriller, 78-68, at Riverhead High School, bumping up its record to 12-0, 9-0 in Suffolk County League III. The Bulldogs made 7 of 8 free throws in the second overtime period, when they outscored Riverhead, 13-3, with six of those points coming from Charise Wilson. Wilson, a freshman guard, finished with a game-high 27 points.

Earlier in the game, both teams came within seconds of winning. A last-second layup by Brianna Jones tied the score at 55-55 for North Babylon as the fourth quarter ended, forcing overtime. Then, after Riverhead fell behind by as many as six points in the first overtime, it forced a second additional four-minute period thanks to a clutch three-point shot by Jalyn Brown that made it 65-65 with eight seconds left in the period. Before the first overtime ended, Wilson chucked a desperate attempt that ricochetted off the top of the backboard.

“Wow, incredible, unbelievable,” were the words North Babylon Coach Debbie Brajevich used to describe what transpired.

“It was the most exciting game of my life, I got to say,” Brown said after the 40-minute game was over. “I have to give it to North Bab. They pulled it out in the end.”

North Babylon got superb production from young players like Wilson and another freshman, Tamara Simpson, who collected 12 points, 13 rebounds, seven steals, six assists and one block. Mary Chisholm and Casey Fillippone added 11 points apiece. Chisholm, a force under the boards, was also good for 14 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and one steal.

Riverhead, which saw a five-game winning streak come to an end, dropped to 9-4, 7-2. The Blue Waves were led by Brown’s 24 points. Kayla Nazario registered 20 points, 11 rebounds, five steals, one assist and a block. Shaniece Allen chipped in 11 points and Naysha Trent had 10.

The game developed into a battle of attrition as players started fouling out late in the fourth quarter. North Babylon lost the services of Chisholm, Brittany Hicks and Jones; Riverhead said goodbye to Trent, Nazario and Allen after they all picked up their fifth personal foul.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jalyn Brown's 24 points led Riverhead in a double-overtime loss to undefeated North Babylon.

Riverhead came out firing, scoring the game’s first 12 points. North Babylon didn’t get on the scoreboard until Sydney Zambrotta hit a 10-footer 5:34 into the game.

But North Babylon whittled away at Riverhead’s lead and went in front for the first time when a putback by Chisholm made it 43-42 with 5:23 to go in the fourth quarter. Second chances helped North Babylon, which had a 27-12 advantage in offensive rebounds. It didn’t hurt North Babylon’s cause, either, that Riverhead shot 1 of 6 from the foul line and 1 of 9 from the field in the second overtime.

“Double overtime is always incredible, and with eighth- and ninth-graders leading the way, it’s amazing,” Brajevich said. “They’re not supposed to win games like that, but they do. These guys are unique.”

Wilson said: “Anybody could have won that game. It was a great experience.”

It was not necessarily a great experience for the Blue Waves, though.

“This is probably the most disappointing loss of my career,” said Riverhead Coach Dave Spinella.

Spinella then referred to the five-point loss in North Babylon on Jan. 4 that slipped through his team’s grasp and the impact this latest loss has on the league title race. “After you’ve played so well and you’ve played so hard, it’s disappointing, it’s gut-wrenching,” he said. “We could have been split and had a chance for the league title and we don’t have that chance now. North Babylon is not going to lose again.”

The Blue Waves can tell you, it will take a supreme effort to beat North Babylon.

“You got to almost be perfect,” Spinella said. “Tonight we were just short.”

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