Shaniece Allen was in a spot she had never been in before. The Riverhead freshman guard stepped to the free throw line with 7.2 seconds left and the Blue Waves leading by two points.
Allen was shooting a one-and-one and calmly knocked down the first free throw as someone from the crowd yelled out to disrupt her. Then Allen hit the second shot to seal a 43-39 win for Riverhead over host Copiague yesterday in a battle for second place in Suffolk League IV.
"I didn't think about it," Allen said of the free throws. "Just do the routine and make them."
The free throw line has been anything but free for Riverhead this season.
"We're not a very good free throw shooting team," Riverhead coach David Spinella said. "We're getting better. Whenever someone goes to the line, we don't know what's going to happen."
There was a good chance you knew what was going to happen when the ball was in Allen's hands. Neither team could muster much offense, but Allen was the one player that did with 17 of her 20 points in the second half. She had seven points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth quarter.
"I had to go to the hoop and draw some fouls," Allen said. "They were getting tired. It was easier getting to the basket."
Allen gave Riverhead (6-4, 5-1) the lead for good on a three-pointer with 2:40 left in the third quarter to make it 28-25. She capped the third quarter on a layup for a 30-25 lead.
One of the biggest shots of the game was a three-pointer by Allen off a pass from sophomore Jalyn Brown with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter to give Riverhead a 36-29 lead.
"Her last two games weren't too good," Brown said of Allen, "but she went hard today. She went to the basket well and hit some big shots."
Brown hit a three-pointer with 2:47 left to make it 41-33. Copiague (5-5, 4-2) then went on a 6-0 run capped by a Raven Walker layup with 1:19 remaining.
Copiague's leading scorer Chelsea Williams had three fouls in the second quarter and sat most of the quarter. She fouled out with seven seconds left and scored 10 points.
"Having Chelsea in foul trouble hurt us," Copiague coach Carole Olsen said. "It started getting frustrating because of all the shots we missed. At one point we missed six putbacks in a row."
Riverhead is one game behind Smithtown West for first place in the standings. The Blue Waves lost the first matchup, but get the rematch at home. Regardless of the results, the future looks bright with Allen and Brown at guard.
"They're young, but seasoned," Spinella said. "Freshman Cornaysha Trent is only getting better. With the three of them, we're going to have a good backcourt for the next few years."