Riverhead girls basketball top sports story of 2012

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Jalyn Brown goes up for a shot during last winter’s playoff run.

As the league season neared the halfway point last January, it became abundantly clear that the few, if any teams, were going to have a chance at defeating the Riverhead girls basketball team. As the Blue Waves tallied lopsided wins, there was a growing sense that the team was on the verge of something special.

Led by the talented trio of Jalyn Brown, Melodee Riley and Shanice Allen, the Blue Waves entered the Class AA playoffs as the No. 3 seed. In the playoff opener against Patchogue-Medford, the Blue Waves cruised to a 67-46 victory as Brown eclipsed 1,000 career points. She became only the third Riverhead player to reach the milestone, although it wouldn’t take long for another player to join the exclusive club.

It was an emotional start to the playoffs, a journey that would continue for close to a month.

After wins against Ward Melville and Lindenhurst, the Blue Waves found themselves in the county championship, playing in front of a raucous crowd at Farmingdale State College against an undefeated Hauppauge team. “Special girls basketball teams like Riverhead’s don’t come along often, so when they do, they want to leave their mark,” wrote News-Review sports editor Bob Liepa.

The Blue Waves did just that with a thrilling 60-52 victory, which included Allen surpassing 1,000 career points, to set the stage for a Long Island championship game against Baldwin. In front of another enthusiastic, towel-waving crowd, the Blue Waves punched their first ever ticket to the state semifinals with a 56-50 win over Baldwin.

While their run came to an end against Penfield in Troy, N.Y., the Blue Waves nonetheless captivated the community with their play and left a lasting mark on Riverhead athletics. In the end, the Blue Waves graced the cover of the News-Review five times.