It’s no blowout, but Riverhead gets the job done

Ben Edmund of Riverhead tried to squeeze between a tangle of Centereach players on his way to the basket.

July 13, 2010: The Riverhead boys basketball team ran through Centereach, 63-23, in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League game.

Last Thursday night: The two teams met again in a league quarterfinal. To some, it might have seemed logical to expect a repeat performance and another blowout.

It didn’t happen.

Centereach looked like a different team as it gave a much better account of itself in the rematch. The Cougars gave Riverhead a run for its money, but it was the Blue Waves who prevailed once again, this time by a more respectable score, 40-31.

“When you beat a team big the first time, you usually expect them to come back with a better punch the second time because no team likes to get beat up like that,” Riverhead Coach John Rossetti said. “You know what, you got to give them a lot of credit.”

The Blue Waves can give themselves some credit, too, for the way they wrestled the game away from Centereach. Elwood Lamb III struck for a game-high 18 points, knocking down all four of his team’s three-point shots, and Ben Edmund supplied 10 points in the game at Riverhead High School.

After starting the summer league with an 0-2 record, Riverhead has won eight in a row, and is headed to a semifinal against Sachem North tonight at Centereach High School. Sachem North was a 45-31 quarterfinal winner over Bellport last Thursday night.

“I think it’s just our teamwork and our hustle,” Rollins, who had seven assists, replied when asked to explain the winning streak. “We don’t give up on anything and we play to the end of the games, and that’s what keeps us winning.”

It would have been understandable if the Blue Waves were taken aback by the way Centereach came out strong, crashed the boards and slowed down the pace of the game to its liking.

“I didn’t really expect it, but any team can come out and play good any day,” said Rollins.

A big part of Centereach’s game was the play of its big men, Michael Wiedemann and James Tuccillo. Wiedemann grabbed 11 rebounds to go with six points, two steals and two blocks. Tuccillo accounted for six points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and an assist.

“Today it was a much different team than we saw the last time,” Rossetti said. “They were a scrappy bunch of kids. They were really pounding the boards, and it was a real good test for us tonight.”

The second of Lamb’s three-pointers, following an Edmund steal, put Riverhead ahead for good at 18-17. That was the beginning of a 10-0 run that had the Blue Waves off and running.

In the second half, Riverhead took its first double-digit lead at 31-21 when Edmund drained a jumper from the corner. Moments later, Lamb spotted Riverhead the biggest lead of the night at 34-21 with his fourth three-pointer.

“I think we just buckled down,” Edmund said. “We played defense and just realized that we need to pick it up in the second half.”

The Blue Waves are learning how to win, and that involves a winning mentality. “They’re building confidence in themselves and they’re believing in themselves, and by believing in themselves, winning becomes easier,” said Rossetti.

They’re not ready to see that winning string snapped.

Rollins said, “We want to keep it going.”

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