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Curtis Spruill, Amari Funn lead Riverhead past Central Islip for sixth straight win

Riverhead forward Curtis Spruill goes up for the

Riverhead forward Curtis Spruill goes up for the three-point shot against Central Islip in a Suffolk League I basketball game on Thursday at Riverhead. Credit: George A Faella

The Riverhead boys basketball team knows a thing or two about turnarounds. After winning just two of its first seven games this season, the Blue Waves rattled off five consecutive victories.

Senior forward Curtis Spruill said the team needed some time to improve its chemistry.

"We have been doing a lot more things off the court to help us connect and get in a better groove on the court," Spruill said. "We have been going out to eat and constantly communicate together in a group chat and on FaceTime. Everywhere you go, you see Riverhead basketball together."

Riverhead trailed by as many as 13 points in the second quarter of its Suffolk League I game against Central Islip on Thursday night but continued to chip away and earned a 63-59 victory to extend its winning streak to six.

Amari Funn scored 17 points off the bench and Spruill finished with 16 points for the Blue Waves (5-3). TayShaun Hawkins made three three-pointers in the fourth quarter and had 13 points.

Ro’Sean Knowles-Bryant scored a game-high 20 points for Central Islip (2-5).

Riverhead began its season on Nov. 27 with a 68-39 victory against Half Hollow Hills West but fell to Hauppauge four days later, 74-34. It was a bit of a wakeup call for Spruill and company. "We came out in our first game and were able to beat a good team by double digits and then Hauppauge really humbled us," Spruill said. "It made us hungrier to get into the gym and improve as a team."

The Blue Waves trailed 37-27 at halftime and were able to cut the deficit to 47-41 by the end of the third quarter.

Hawkins drained a three-pointer midway through the fourth to tie the score at 52 and Spruill followed with a basket to give Riverhead the lead. Rahleek Murray made two free throws to tie it at 54 for Central Islip, but Riverhead answered with four straight points, including Hawkins’ final three-pointer.

Central Islip got to within 60-59 with 45 seconds left when Zy’Mel Murray (10 points) made one of two free throws after forcing a steal.

But Riverhead’s Javonte Martin knocked down three free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

"I am a first-year coach and there were no sports at Riverhead last year," Riverhead coach Elwood Lamb said. "It took a little time, but everybody bonded and got on the same page as we got going. The kids started believing and working even harder. We want to just keep riding this wave."

Surely that wave is blue.

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