The Riverhead Blue Waves are the L.I. Class AA champions, the first Riverhead girls basketball team ever to claim that distinction.
They did it by beating defending L.I. champion Baldwin Bruins 56-50 tonight in a tough game at Farmingdale State College.
A large and noisy crowd — complete with the blaring horns of fire engines and ambulances — greeted the jubilant team upon its return to Riverhead High School late Friday night.
The Waves found themselves in unfamiliar territory through the first half: trailing behind their opponents. They were down by five at the end of the first quarter and down by three at the half.
But the Waves were not about to give up. They came back fighting in the second half and put 19 points on the board in the third quarter — just one point shy of their total for the entire first half.
Melodee Riley led the Waves' offense with 18 points. Shanice Allen and Kaila-Riane Nozario contributed 11 points apiece. Jalyn Brown had 9.
For the Bruins, Alex Hampton had a game-high 20 points and Amber Harrison put up 15. The two led the Bruins in points through the season, one in which Baldwin suffered just one loss. The Bruins won their third consecutive county title this year.
The Waves now move on to the state semifinal in upstate Troy next Friday. They will face the winner of tomorrow's Region 3 final between Section VI champion Lockport and Section V champion Penfield.
Check back Saturday morning for video highlights.
Photo caption: The Blue Waves celebrate their L.I. championship Friday night in Farmingdale. RiverheadLOCAL photo by Peter Blasl.
RiverheadLOCAL photo slideshow by George Faella
RiverheadLOCAL photo slideshow by Peter Blasl