GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO
The Riverhead Blue Waves had a successful summer season, going 8-2.
They simply ran out of gas.
For much of the first half of last Thursday night’s Town of Brookhaven Boys Basketball Summer League large schools semifinal, it looked for all the world like Sachem North was going to run the undermanned Riverhead team out of the Centereach High School gymnasium. Sachem North opened the game with a 15-0 run, but the gritty Blue Waves never gave up. Riverhead trimmed a 12-point halftime deficit to six points early in the second half.
But playing with only seven players finally caught up with the Blue Waves down the stretch, and they lost, 49-43.
“Sachem North came out with a little more intensity and caught us on our heels,” Riverhead Coach John Rossetti said. “They jumped on us like we usually jump on teams. We were more aggressive in the second half, but we ran out of steam.”
Riverhead (8-2) went into the playoffs tied for first place with Sachem East, but was seeded second since the Blue Waves lost to the Flaming Arrows during the regular season.
In the early going, Riverhead relied too much on the jump shot and paid dearly for it. The Blue Waves didn’t get on the scoreboard until Elwood Lamb III hit a foul shot 10 minutes into the game. Sachem North led by as many as 18 points before Riverhead trimmed the deficit to 12 by the half.
Rossetti said his team “weathered the storm.”
Riverhead, with Lamb attacking the basket to open the second half, scored the first six points and suddenly, the Blue Waves were within six points. Sachem North called a timeout to thwart Riverhead’s run. Its lead ballooned back up to 12 points. Both teams traded mini-runs the rest of the way.
The Blue Waves pressed, trapped and closed to within four points with 4:00 left in the second half. But Sachem North had the fresher players in crunch time and held on for the win.
Rossetti said his team “just couldn’t get through the threshold.”
Lamb finished with 18 points and Ben Edmund had 12 points.
Rossetti raved about how Lamb has improved his game.
“Elwood significantly improved his game from the end of last season to the summer league,” Rossetti said. “Now the question is, can he continue to improve? The defenses are going to key on him. He’s a marked man. He’s got to learn to run people off screens and make the adjustments.”
Rossetti praised Edmund for “doing all the right things to get better.” He also complimented the rebounding of Tim Clement.
“Only one team gets to win the tournament, but we came out as winners,” Rossetti said. “We played with a winning intensity. We played hard. We believe in ourselves. We’ve got the confidence that good things can happen. This helps us believe we can win. We know how to win now.”