A magical season continues for the Riverhead Blue Waves.
Riverhead won 60-52 against No. 4 Hauppauge Tuesday night at Farmingdale State College to clinch the Class AA county championship, only the second title in school history and first since 1984.
Riverhead junior Shanice Allen (24 points) scored her 1,000th career point in the victory, becoming only the fourth girl in school history to reach the mark. Senior Jalyn Brown (11 points) hit the milestone in the Blue Waves’ first playoff game.
Behind a suffocating man-t0-man defense, Riverhead limited Hauppauge to a season-low 18 points in the first half. But the Eagles came out strong in the third after Riverhead went ahead by 11. The Eagles cut the lead to two late in the quarter, but the Blue Waves answered with a run of their own to push the lead back to double digits.
Hauppauge was undefeated coming into today. The Eagles close out the season 21-1.
Riverhead will play 5 p.m. Friday against Class B champion Southampton for the overall Section XI Championship. That is a non-elimination game, also at Farmingdale State College.
The Blue Waves more important game comes March 9 for the Long Island Championship, also at Farmingdale State. The Nassau champion is not yet determined. The winner of the Long Island Championship advances to the state semifinals.
Senior Melodee Riley scored 18 points with 8 rebounds. Kaila Nazario hauled down 10 rebounds for Riverhead. Lauren Descalzo led Hauppauge with 17 points. Lindsay Alfano added 13. Julie Williams, who led the Eagles in scoring all postseason, was limited to only 8 points.
Below is a live blog from the game:
No. 3 Riverhead (20-1) vs. No. 4 Hauppauge (21-0)
Class AA County Championship
Site: Farmingdale State College
Time: 5 p.m.
Coverage: The Riverhead-News Review will be reporting live from Farmingdale with up-to-the-second results. If you can’t make the game, be sure to follow along the live blog below.
Key matchup: Jalyn Brown vs. Julie Williams
Brown, a Riverhead senior, and Williams, a junior, are the engines that keep both teams running. Point guards with superior quickness, both players are dangerous 3-point shooters as well. Williams has hit at least three treys in each playoff victory so far. Against Commack she hit six from beyond the arc, accounting for 18 of her game-high 22 points. Brown has connected on five 3-pointers in the playoffs so far.
Brown and Williams can both wreak havoc defensively as well.
Scouting the Eagles: Riverhead coach Dave Spinella called the Eagles “one of the few teams in the county that can match our quickness.” The Eagles like to play a zone defense, which could force the Blue Waves to have to knock down shots from the outside. It may not be easy for the Blue Waves to force as many turnovers as they usually like to.
On offense the Eagles can be dangerous from outside. In addition to Williams, Lauren Descalzo is a terrific 3-point shooter. She’s already hit eight 3-pointers in the playoff so far.
Key to the game: Rebounding
If the Blue Waves can control the boards, it’ll put them in good position to win the game. Senior Melodee Riley has been a top rebounder for the Blue Waves, which helps the team on both ends. Her offensive rebounds can lead to easy points. And her defensive rebounds can jump-start the team in transition.
Everyone will have to contribute on the boards for Riverhead. When teams shoot from deep, it often leads to long rebounds. The Blue Waves don’t want to allow the Eagles to get second-chance opportunities on offense.
By the numbers:
41: Combined number of victories for both teams this season.
6: The combined point total by which Hauppauge won its previous two playoff games. The Eagles won 47-45 over top-seeded Sachem East in the semifinals and 47-43 over Deer Park in the quarterfinals.
61: The number of days since Riverhead last played a game decided by single digits. The Blue Waves beat Walt Whitman 48-39 Dec. 29.
24.3: The average margin of victory for Riverhead this season in the Blue Waves’ 20 wins.
14: Number of years between playoff victories for Hauppauge after the Eagles won their first-round playoff game last year against Lindenhurst.
1: Number of county championships in school history for both schools. Hauppauge won the Class B title in 1996-97 and Riverhead won the B title in 1983-84.
4: Number of times Riverhead senior Melodee Riley has broken her career high for points in a game this month. She scored 21 in a league victory over Smithtown East Feb. 2 to set a new high. She then scored 22 against Centereach Feb. 14, 23 against Patchogue-Medford and 28 against Lindenhurst in the Blue Waves’ victory Saturday.