Tears at the conclusion of a playoff loss or a season are not unusual in sports. But after a summer league game?
When Sam Dunn’s fifth and final summer season with the Riverhead girls basketball team came to an end on Monday night, emotions got the better of her and she had tears in her eyes.
Dunn a 5-foot-10 forward headed into her senior year at Riverhead High School, plays on an Amateur Athletic Union team, the Lightning, and participates in a number of basketball activities. However, nothing, she said, is as enjoyable to her as playing alongside her Blue Waves teammates.
“My favorite part of the summer is playing summer league with these girls,” she said. She explained: “When I’m with these girls, it’s almost like I’m with my family. These are like my best friends. They’re my sisters, and when I’m on the court with them, it makes the game so much better.”
That sense of unity was apparently strengthened further by another strong showing by the Blue Waves in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. They turned in another successful summer, winning eight of the 10 games they played. Both losses came to Sachem East Gold, the team that ousted the Blue Waves in a semifinal, 34-27, on Monday at Patchogue-Medford High School. Sachem East Gold will face Brentwood for the league title on Wednesday night.
By all accounts, it was a good summer for the Blue Waves, who lost to Deer Park in last year’s summer league final.
“We had another great season,” Kim Ligon, a sophomore guard, said. Whereas in years past the Blue Waves “were that weak team that everyone came for,” Ligon said, “… now we’re like giving the bumps and bruises.”
A fair share of them are being dished out by Dezarae Brown, who has elevated her game as a fierce rebounder with finishing ability.
“She’s become a serious monster on the boards,” said coach Dave Spinella.
Asked if she has noticed an improvement in Brown, Ligon answered in the affirmative. “Heck yeah!” she said.
Brown, a 6-1 senior forward, showed what a force she can be under the boards, grabbing 13 rebounds (6 offensive) while tangling with Sachem East Gold’s Gabriella Aspuru (12 rebounds).
“My girl,” said Dunn.
Brown, who plays on the same 17-and-under AAU team as Dunn, acknowledged that she has raised her game significantly.
“My summer, man, um, I think that I, I guess I did pretty good,” she said. “From previous years I improved a lot. I got strong with the ball and I was more focused.”
So then, where did that all of that improvement come from?
“That’s a good question,” she answered, laughing. “I have no idea where that came from. I really don’t.”
One statistic that wasn’t kept Monday was the number of layups missed. That might be just as well. Both teams missed plenty of them, but the Blue Waves were particularly hurt by those misses. They made only 4 of 21 field-goal attempts in the first half and shot 23.1 percent from the field for the game.
“It’s not that we can’t play with them,” Spinella said. “We just did not finish when we needed to finish.”
The Blue Waves fell into a 7-0 hole at the start and never recovered. They lost one of their top players at halftime when Faith Johnson-DeSilvia had to leave because of what Spinella said was a case of heat rash.
Ligon led her side with 9 points.
A freshman, Hannah Ruberto, provided Sachem East Gold with 12 points.
All in all, Dunn said she has enjoyed the summer experience. “It’s been the best,” she said. “Doing this over the summer makes the summer.”
[Photo Credit: Dezarae Brown, a 6-foot-1 forward, has raised her finishing and rebounding skills, said Riverhead coach Dave Spinella. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)]