It has been three years since Riverhead has played in the high school boys basketball playoffs. Naturally, the Blue Waves are anxious to book their place in this year’s postseason. They will have to wait — at least until their next game.
The Blue Waves, who need one more win to reach the playoffs, missed an opportunity against Huntington on Thursday. They opened the Suffolk County League III game at Riverhead High School by shooting out to a 20-8 lead before Huntington wrested away control of the contest. The Blue Waves (7-6, 6-3) hit a rough cold spell in the fourth quarter, making only 2 of 21 field-goal attempts and losing, 63-51.
Riverhead still has five more games to pick up a playoff-clinching win, starting with a matchup Tuesday at North Babylon.
The Blue Waves have a lot to play for. They are in the hunt for their first league championship since 2013. At the start of the day, they sat in second place, one game behind Smithtown West and one game ahead of both Huntington and North Babylon.
Huntington’s 6-foot-4 senior guard, Kenny Charles, a prolific scorer known for putting up 30-plus points in games, played while under the weather, said his coach, Brian Carey. Riverhead did a commendable job holding Charles to 10 points and 9 rebounds, but Huntington’s supporting cast stepped up and made a difference. Kevin Lawrence, a 6-4 junior, knocked down five 3-point shots to finish with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Also scoring in doubles figures for the Blue Devils (6-7, 6-3) were Quincy Nelson with 12 points and Nat Amato with 11.
Huntington shot 8 of 16 from 3-point distance.
Lintell Brown scored 8 of his 16 points during Riverhead’s game-opening 20-8 run. Sharron Trent also netted 16 points and Malik Washington added 11 for the Blue Waves.
One of Trent’s three 3-pointers right before the buzzer ending the third quarter cut Huntington’s lead to 46-43, raising the hopes of the home fans for a comeback.
It never came as Riverhead’s offense fizzled.
Huntington charged out for the first 10 points of the fourth quarter while Riverhead had trouble getting its shots to fall. For the game, the Blue Waves shot 19 of 70 (27.1 percent) from the field. Perhaps just as frustrating for them was their success rate at the foul line, where they went 9 of 23.
Photo caption: Lintell Brown, who scored 16 points for Riverhead, takes aim at the basket while Huntington’s Kenny Charles tries to obstruct his view. (Credit: Garret Meade)