BLUE WAVES 67, RAIDERS 46
Jalyn Brown had no idea why she was receiving a standing ovation.
She had just connected from the line for her 15th point of the game and her team was up by 20 in its playoff opener against visiting Patchogue-Medford. But she still had one more free throw to shoot, and more than a minute remained on the game clock.
So why was everyone celebrating as if the game was over?
“I had no idea,” she said.
It wasn’t until moments later, when the public address announcer made the announcement, that the Riverhead senior realized what had just happened.
“Congratulations to Jalyn Brown, who has just scored her 1,000th career point,” he said.
Brown dropped her head in her hands and let a couple tears of joy drip down her face.
It was the biggest moment of a night with plenty of reasons to smile for the Blue Waves, who ran the Raiders out of the gym in a 67-46 Class AA playoff win in front of a packed house.
No. 3 Riverhead, who has now won 18 in a row after losing its season opener, moves on to the second round, where it will host No. 6 Ward Melville Wednesday night. And the team will do so without head coach Dave Spinella, who was ejected after receiving two quick technical fouls in the first half Monday.
Section XI rules state that any coach “ejected from a contest for misconduct may not participate in his team’s next regularly scheduled contest, including postseason games. The suspended coach may not be at the site of the contest for which he has been suspended.”
Coach Spinella, who picked up the technical fouls with his team leading big early in the second quarter and one of his players at the free throw line, declined comment after the game.
Assistant coach and former Riverhead boys head coach Jerry Wiesmann, who like Spinella has more than 100 wins in his career, coached the remainder of the game for the Blue Waves.
Even without their head coach, nothing could slow Riverhead down Monday night.
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, the Waves ended the first quarter on a 13-2 run for an 18-7 advantage at the end of one.
Senior forward Melodee Riley set the tone for Riverhead early by scoring 10 first quarter points. The record-breaking track star who is headed to University of Connecticut next fall on a full athletic scholarship finished the contest with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Brown, who entered the game with 985 points, turned her attention to setting up teammates after missing her first five attempts from the floor. She had just two points after the first quarter and seven at halftime, but managed nine points in the second half to push her career total to 1,001 points.
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Riverhead assistant coach Jim Janecek said afterward that the coaching staff made getting Brown her 1,000 points a priority early in the season. It was not uncommon for her to enter a game the team led by double figures in the fourth quarter.
So when Wiesmann called the C.W. Post-bound guard off the bench in the final minutes Monday, she wasn’t aware that she stood at 999 career points.
“I was so surprised about it,” she said. “I’m so glad I got it. It’s a very special night.”
“We knew all along she had a shot at it this year,” the assistant, who also serves as JV coach said. “We knew we had to get her the minutes. From there it was just a matter of letting her play her game and let it happen.”
Brown finished with 16 points and five steals, as Riverhead used its quickness to create defensive pressure to gain an advantage over the taller Patchogue-Medford.
Junior forward Kaila-Riane Nazario added 13 points for the Blue Waves, who also received a 10-point contribution from junior Shanice Allen.
Guard Aileen Yaeger led Patchogue-Medford with 12 points in her final game.
The time of Wednesday’s Riverhead-Ward Melville showdown has not yet been announced, but it will be played in Riverheada home game for the higher-seeded Blue Waves.
Riverhead has now scored more than 60 points in nine games this season.