Riverhead captains, from left, Shanice Allen, Marta Czaplak, Melodee Riley...

Riverhead captains, from left, Shanice Allen, Marta Czaplak, Melodee Riley and Jalyn Brown celebrate with their championship plaque after their win over Southampton in the Suffolk County girls championship. (March 2, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When things were starting to steer out of control, Shanice Allen reeled them back in.

With Southampton trailing by one with 3.3 seconds left in overtime, Kesi Goree's inbounds fling toward midcourt was intercepted by an outstretched Allen, who was then fouled and hit one of two free throws, as Riverhead hung on to win, 61-59, Friday at Farmingdale State to clinch the Suffolk overall girls basketball championship. This after Allen's layup with 20 seconds to play erased Riverhead's only deficit in a game in which it led by 12 at halftime.

Both Southampton (19-4), the Small Schools champion, and Riverhead (22-1), the Class AA winner, will continue on to contend in the Long Island championship games against the Nassau winners.

"It was good to face an opponent like that in a tight game to prepare us for the Long Island championship," said Allen, who had 19 points, five steals and four assists despite sitting for about a quarter of the game. "We were exchanging baskets, and it was like, just score. Just have confidence."

Riverhead never trailed until overtime, though it allowed Southampton to tie the score twice in the fourth quarter -- the last time, on Goree's teasing jumper that swirled around the rim before falling in to tie it at 53 with 25 seconds left and send it to overtime.

Jalyn Brown's layup on a feed from Allen gave the Blue Waves a two-point advantage to kick off the extra frame, but Goree, who finished with a game-high 31 points, attacked again -- this time with a pull-up jumper with 3:26 left to tie the score at 55. After Brown's long straightaway three, Goree scored four straight to give the Mariners their only lead of the game with 27 seconds left before Allen's driving layup on the subsequent possession made it 60-59.

It was a close call for Riverhead, which led by 12 after one quarter and had a 32-20 lead at the break.

"We have some kids who work hard all year and I wanted to be able to get them some time," said coach David Spinella, who sat starters in the second, third and fourth quarters of the game, since the result would not affect their postseason run. Southampton outscored Riverhead 21-12 in the fourth.

"Southampton is a really good, young basketball team and I'm proud of them," Brown said, adding that she's known some of the girls for years. "I didn't doubt for a second that they were going to come back."

Not that she was completely pleased. "We've got to practice our defense and foul shots to get us ready to go for the LICs," said Brown, who went 0-for-3 from the line in extra time. "My shots weren't falling . . . [and then] they'd been playing a 3-2 zone. We weren't expecting them to press like they did" in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Not that it ended up costing Riverhead too much. Brown scored five of her 18 points in overtime, all before Allen's eventual game-winning layup.

Turns out that was all the insurance they would need.


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