A well-played game was anticipated and delivered. Really, no surprise there. Perhaps what was most eye-opening, though, was how tight a contest it was between the Huntington and Riverhead high school girls basketball teams. They were separated by a mere 2 points — and a temporary loss of balance.
An ill-timed lane violation in the final minute cost Huntington a point, and perhaps much more at Riverhead High School on Thursday.
After making the first free throw to cut Riverhead’s lead to 58-57 with 38.5 seconds left in the game, Brooke Baade sank the second one as well, but it was disallowed because one of her teammates had leaned over too far and tipped into the lane, negating the foul shot.
Later, Riverhead’s Mary Reiter deflected a lobbed Huntington pass to teammate Sam Dunn, who was fouled and sent to the foul line with 8.3 seconds remaining. Dunn drained the second free throw for a 59-57 lead.
Huntington had one last chance to tie the score or win the game. Baade fed a pass to Emma Petrizzi, whose 3-point attempt clanked off the rim. Reiter came down with the rebound, and the game was over. The Blue Waves had nailed down a significant league victory.
It was an early-season game, but it was a big one between two teams seen as serious contenders for the Suffolk County League III championship. Huntington is a quality team, with six returning players from the squad that lost to Commack in last season’s county Class AA final.
After Thursday’s game, the Blue Waves, wearing big smiles on their faces, trotted out of the gym and into a hallway for a postgame talk with their coach, Dave Spinella. Riverhead forward Dezarae Brown later said that Spinella was left speechless. Loud cheers could be heard before they returned to the gym.
The game was a back-and-forth affair with 18 lead changes. The score was tied nine times, and neither side led by more than 6 points. That only magnified every play, every basket and every contribution.
Brown, a 6-foot-1 senior, had a tremendous game with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Dunn picked up 15 points, shooting 5 of 12 from the field, to go with 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Faith Johnson-DeSilvia had eight assists.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Dunn and Brown, the Blue Waves (2-3, 2-0) dominated the boards, outrebounding the Blue Devils, 33-18.
Huntington (2-2, 1-1) was sparked by the play of Taylor Moreno and Alex Heuwetter, who scored 20 and 15 points, respectively.
Both teams took high-percentage shots: a lot of layups, bunnies and putbacks. That accounts for their high field-goal shooting percentages (47.1 percent for Huntington and 46.9 percent for Riverhead). Fittingly, it was a shot from right under the basket by Dunn that put the Blue Waves in front for good, snapping a 56-56 tie.
Photo caption: Sam Dunn, looking for an opening to shoot, provided Riverhead with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in its big league win over Huntington. (Credit: Garret Meade)