A 10-0 run with less than three minutes in the game propelled the Blue Waves girls' basketball team to a 66-51 win over the Lindenhurst Bulldogs and into the Suffolk County Class AA finals for the first time since 1984, when the team won the Section XI championship.
The Blue Waves played the same game they've played all year - stingy, quick defense coupled with a dash of Jalyn Brown and a handful of baskets from Melodee Riley.
"They've been a great tandem all year long," said Head Coach Dave Spinella.
Riley led all scorers in the game with 26 points, with Brown contributing 16 of her own. The defense held Lindenhurst to 4 from 23 from three-point range.
"Whenever I know I don't have it and I'm going to the basket, I know I can look to my left or right and find Melodee," said Brown after the game. "And we used our pressure defense against them."
No. 3 Riverhead improved to 20-1 with the win, and will gace off against No. 4 Hauppauge on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Haupauge .
The Blue Waves pressured all game with a full-court press that led to a couple of steals in the last-minute, 10-0 run that put the game out of reach. A pair of steals from guard Shanice Allen and a three-pointer from Marta Czaplak brought the Riverhead crowd to its feet and fans heading toward the aisles at the 1:47 mark in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs, on the other side, were never quite able to establish a rhythm finding the basket from beyond the arc, at one point going 0-for-7 from three-point range in the entire third quarter.
"That's what got us here, so we have to play our game," said Lindenhurst coach Greg Flynn. "We made 140 three-pointers this year. So I wish we had shot better, but they played tough defense, showed a lot of different sets, and we got into playing their game."
The Blue Waves grabbed the lead early on and never looked back. Holding a three-point lead with seconds remaining in the first quarter, Allen launched a half-court heave as the clock expired to put the Blue Waves up 24-18.
Following a pair of Riverhead turnovers early in the second quarter, the Lady Bulldogs cut their deficit down to 24-20, though that was as close as the game would get.
The Blue Waves jumped out to a 10-point lead at half. A third-quarter run from Lindenhurst led by point guard Sammy Martinez and shooting guard Colleen Ames cut the elad down to 45-39 by the end of the third. While the two guards controlled the offense for Lindenhurst, Ames shot 1-for-11 from three-point range, making difficult work for forwards Valerie and Naomi Oyakhilome. Valerie led the Bulldogs with 17 points, several of which were second-chance points pulled down after offensive rebounds.1 2 3 4 Final Riverhead 24 13 8 21 66 Lindenhurst 18 9 12 12 51