After losing the first game of the season, Riverhead hasn’t lost since. The Blue Waves had a goal of winning a county championship with a core that has been together for a few seasons and their aspirations came to fruition tonight in a 60-52 win over Hauppauge in the Suffolk Class AA finals.
As usual, it was the trio of Jalyn Brown, Shanice Allen and Melodee Riley that came though along with key contributions from Kaila-Riane Nazario, and Marta Czaplak.
Allen had 24 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals, Brown had 11 points and four assists and Riley added 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Riley averaged 13 points in the regular season, but has elevated her game in the postseason, averaging nearly 20 points.
Nazario had nine rebounds and Czaplak’s only basket was a three-pointer with 7:15 left in the game to make it 46-33 and cap a 13-2 run.
Riverhead (21-1) won its first county championship since winning a Class B title in 1984.
Brown could tell Allen was on top of her game early with 13 points in the first half and kept looking for her.
“She’s my best friend on the court,” Brown said. “She’s the other point guard. I just dished her the ball and let her score.”
Allen scored her 1,000th career point on a free throw with 3:23 left in the game after Brown reached the milestone recently.
“She doesn’t feel too much pressure at all,” Riverhead coach Dave Spinella said of Allen. “She doesn’t let anything bother her. She has games where she takes over. She hit some key free throws.”
Brown hit her head on the floor with 3:55 left in the third quarter and stayed down for a while. She left the gym to get a concussion test and was fine. She ran back to the bench and entered the game with 1:46 left in the quarter.
“She came running back in like Willis Reed,” Spinella said. “She ran in so I knew she was OK.”
Hauppauge came into the game with 124 three-pointers and didn’t hit any in the first half and had four for the game.
"We knew going in Hauppauge is athletic like us and likes to run," Brown said. "We had to get out on their shooters."
Added Allen: “We had to get out on the arc and make them drivers instead of shooters,” Allen said. “We couldn’t give them open looks. We know they can knock them down.”
It was a tremendous run for Hauppauge, which lost its first game of the season. Hauppauge (21-1) made tremendous strides in the last two seasons.
"I think Hauppauge did a great job to have us not play our best basketball," Spinella said. "I don’t think we played our best. It’s a credit to Hauppauge. We made a lot of mistakes, but it’s a credit to Hauppuage. They took us out of our zone and we went into our halfcourt."
Said Riley: "It means so much to win. We did it for us and Coach Spinella."