Riley has 18 in Riverhead loss to Penfield

Riverhead's Melodee Riley dribbles down the court past Riverhead's Melodee Riley dribbles down the court past Penfield's Sheila Nesselbush. (March 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Pat Orr

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TROY, N.Y. -- Shanice Allen forced a steal and threw an outlet pass to Jalyn Brown, who chased it down the floor all alone in the third quarter. The throw was past Brown and she caught up to it along the baseline and saved the ball from going out of bounds.

Two Penfield defenders were there to get the ball and it turned into a transition jumper for Penfield. It was that kind of night for Riverhead as nothing went right. To make matters worse, Brown and Allen each had four fouls before the end of the third quarter.

Add it all up and Riverhead's 23-game winning streak came to an end in a 67-49 loss to Penfield Friday night in the state Class AA girls basketball semifinals at Hudson Valley Community College. Penfield (24-0) will play defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse at 8:45 p.m. Saturday in the state championship game.

Melodee Riley had 18 points and seven rebounds, Kaila-Riane Nazario scored 13 points and Brown added 11 points for Riverhead (23-2), which made its first trip to the state semifinals.

"Just going into the locker room was tough because you knew it was going to be an emotional scene," Riley said. "I am just happy we had such a great season."

Riverhead, which averaged 61 points coming in, shot 18-for-55 from the field, including 5-for-23 from three-point range. Penfield shot 28-for-45 from the field and outscored Riverhead in the paint, 48-20.

"Our shots weren't falling," Brown said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the basket like we're used to doing."

Margot Hetzke, a 5-11 sophomore, had 24 points and 12 rebounds for Penfield.

Riverhead shot 1-for-13 from three-point range in the first half and was outrebounded, 17-7. The Blue Waves had a difficult time stopping Hetzke in the post as she scored 12 points. Penfield scored 28 of its 31 points in the paint and shot 14-for-21 from the field to take a 31-18 halftime lead.

Every time Riverhead hit what appeared to be a big shot in the third quarter, Penfield answered. Nazario hit three three-pointers in the third quarter and on the ensuing Penfield possessions, it hit two three-pointers and a jumper.

"Every time we cut it close, they had a run of their own," Riverhead coach Dave Spinella said. "They had an answer for everything. It wasn't always points. It was a foul, a big rebound, or a stop. We couldn't hit shots early. When we started hitting shots it was too late. That's a very impressive basketball team."

And so is Riverhead, which won its first county title since 1984 and captured its first Long Island championship.

"I can't express how proud I am of them," Spinella said. "Once I step back in a couple of days and look at this, I'll say 'Wow, what a ride'. Hopefully, the kids do the same."

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