The mark of a good team?
When it bounces back after a crushing defeat.
Less than 24 hours after missing out on a major upset in the final seconds, the Riverhead Blue Waves did just that Saturday, even if they weren’t hitting on all cylinders.
The Riverhead girls registered a 49-35 victory over host Amityville to capture the Claude Byer Tournament though they didn’t play up to their expectations.
“Not the prettiest, but got the job done,” coach Kenny Coard said. “We got the W. We’ll take it.”
Especially after what transpired less than 24 hours earlier. The Blue Waves thought they were on the verge a major upset of Suffolk County League II power Walt Whitman (11-6, 8-1) Danielle Kleet sank a three-point shot with 11 seconds remaining to lift Whitman to a 47-45 triumph Friday night.
“Really tough,” said senior guard Kate McCarney.
“It’s kind of hard because its still weighing on us a little bit,” added senior guard Faith Johnson-DaSilvia. “Coach told us to take all that frustration and anger out on Amityville or whoever we play next.”
With whatever energy the Blue Waves had remaining. They never trailed, but never could truly find their consistency. In other words, Saturday’s game was far from their best of the season.
The Blue Waves shot 35 percent from the field, sank only 3 of 8 foul shot and made 29 turnovers. Amityville (4-12), which is in seventh place in League VI, didn’t help its cause with 28 turnovers.
“Usually when we play these lower teams that aren’t good,” guard Faith Johnson-DeSilvia said. “We play down. We’re not supposed to play down. We’re supposed to play to our full potential. But it’s kind of tough.”
McCarney scored eight of her game-high 16 points as Riverhead grabbed a 12-6 first-quarter advantage. Johnson-DeSilvia tallied seven of her 13 points as the Blue Waves enjoyed a 21-14 halftime lead.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that Riverhead pulled away, taking advantage of Amityville’s short bench. The Warriors started with seven players as one reserve player injured her knee. Coach Nicole Bass wound up with no substitutes after Jada Roberts Duncan fouled out with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter.
McCarney admitted she and her teammates themselves were tired playing back-to-back.
“We’re all very tired. Our bodies are very tired,” she said. “It just shows that we’re able to push through that and still get the win.”
Quite appropriately, McCarney and Johnson-DeSilvia shared tournament MVP honors, although there was only one trophy.
“I told Kate: I’ve got it weekdays and she has it weekends,” Johnson-DeSilvia said with a laugh. “But she said she has it weekdays and I have it weekends.
“We’re still figuring it out,” McCarney added with a smile.
Coard was able to clear his bench in the fourth quarter and give his reserves some much needed action.
“Down the road, the goal has to be to win a championship and do that, you have to have people coming off the bench to contribute,” he said. “If they don’t play, you’re not going to be able to. So, it’s important to get them playing time.”
After putting a difficult weekend behind them the Blue Waves will focus on securing a playoff berth. They need to win one of their final league games to earn a spot in the Class AA tournament. Riverhead plays at Northport Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. and hosts Central Islip Friday at 4 p.m.
“We definitely all expect to make the playoffs,” McCarney said. “We expect to win the next four games. We think we’re better. If we all play the way we’re capable of, we can win any game. We really believe that.”
Even on days when the Blue Waves don’t play up to their potential and still find a way to win.