Blue Wave boys hoops rebounds with win over Central Islip

It’s been a tough season for the Riverhead boys basketball team this year, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing every game with high effort and commitment. There haven’t been very many wins on the season, but all the hard work they’ve been putting in paid off Monday afternoon with a 67-55 win over Central Islip at Riverhead High School.

After Monday’s win, Riverhead (3-14) had  three games remaining on the schedule, including a Feb. 7 tilt  against Longwood (7-11), who they fought neck-and-neck earlier this season before a collapse in the fourth quarter. 

“If we can get another win or two it will really bring some momentum into next season,” Riverhead head coach Elwood Lamb said. “The kids have been playing hard, especially when we play the team a second time. They know what to expect.”

Lack of confidence has been the common theme throughout the course of the season. Riverhead could be playing well from the beginning of the game and as soon as the other team made a strong run, they had no true answer. 

Riverhead has the talent. And much of it is returning next season. What the Blue Waves need are wins. That’s the only thing that deters self-doubt.

Liam Lennon, a junior, has been breaking out as of late. The forward has the size to dominate down low and has the quickness to scuttle through the paint to either get layups or at least get to the line for free throws. Lennon scored a season-high 18 points against Central Islip and was an absolute terror on the boards and on the defensive end. He collected 13 rebounds and came up clutch with five blocks and four steals. 

“Liam has been playing better every week,” Lamb said. “We need his intensity on both sides of the ball to be successful.”

“It’s been tough losing all these games,” Lennon said. “But we have to push through it and continue trying to get better not only individually but as a team.”

Freshman point guard Anaiis Mitchell also had a breakout game, scoring a season-high 12 points. He also collected five rebounds, four assists and three steals,

“Mitchell is coming along but he’s still very young,” Lamb said. “He can definitely be that best player on the floor at any given time if he puts the work in.”

Seniors AJ Austin and Markus Grigg will be among the six graduating this season, leaving spots open for the up and coming hoopsters. Austin and Grigg both scored 15 points in the victory.

“They’re going to be good next year, watch,” Austin said. “Between the talent they have coming back and the JV team that’s coming up, they’re going to be good and win a bunch of games.”

Another piece of next year’s puzzle is sophomore sharpshooter Peter Legnena. Though teams have zoned in on him throughout the season, he was still able to have some big efforts, impacting the game from beyond the arc.

He scored a season-high 21 points against Bridgehampton and added another 18 against Patchogue-Medford. For Legnena, it’s just a matter of finding him with some space to shoot.

Deshawn Watkins, a junior, has also shown some flashes of excellence. His big body can cause havoc in the paint as he has little issue getting to the basket and scoring tough, contested layups but he also has a serious touch from the outside. Watkins has had a handful of double-digit scoring games and scored as many as 18 points in a game against Walt Whitman.

“Our chemistry is definitely growing and I feel like we’re going to be a much different team next year,” Lennon said. “We just need to stay around each other over the summer and keep building what we’re trying to accomplish here. I know we have it in us.”