Sixth-seeded Ward Melville has seen some of the toughest girls' basketball teams Suffolk County has to offer, like Sachem East, Harborfields, and Copiague.
But Riverhead was the best of them all, Ward Melville coach Lawrence Combs said on Wednesday, after the Blue Waves defeated the Patriots 67-42 in the Suffolk County class AA quarterfinals.
"We couldn't match up with them," Combs said. "I know we've played [No. 1-seeded] Sachem East a couple of times, but athletically, physically, Riverhead's the best team we've seen and we couldn't keep up."
Senior Jalyn Brown finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals for No. 3 Riverhead (19-1), who will face No. 2 Lindenhurst on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Farmingdale State College. Riverhead is having its best season since 1984, when the team was the Section XI champion.
On Monday, it was Ward Melville who opened with a 14-point run against Kings Park – but on Wednesday, Riverhead opened the game with a 14-3 scoring streak. The Blue Waves led 34-22 at halftime and built up to a 26-point lead after a steal and a layup by Brown made the score 64-38 with 2:32 left in the game.
Ward Melville was led by senior point guard Caysea Cohen, who finished with 14 points.
"Caysea Cohen is a good player," Brown said. "We had to adjust to double team her and try to stop her, and meanwhile we had to stop other players, too. My team played as a family tonight and I'm really proud of them."
The game quickly turned physical: both teams were over the foul limit early, players fouled out on both sides, and technical fouls were handed out. A Riverhead gym packed with noisy fans didn't help Ward Melville's cause.
"I think my kids got rattled with the atmosphere, obviously," Combs said.
The Patriots played much of the game with senior Meagan Murtagh on the bench in foul trouble. Murtagh, who had 18 points against Kings Park on Monday, was held to 8 points on Wednesday. Sophomore Tara O'Hern added 9 points for the Patriots.
The Blue Waves were without one key component of their team: head coach Dave Spinella, who was charged with two technical fouls in the first half of Riverhead's game against Patchogue-Medford on Monday and was suspended for one game in accordance with Section XI rules.
Assistant coach Jerry Wiesmann, formerly the boys' head coach at Riverhead, said he helped the girls follow through with Spinella's game plan.
"We were ready," Wiesmann said. "We had all day yesterday and this morning to discuss what we were going to do in Dave's absence. It worked out well. It actually went the way I thought it would go."
1 2 3 4 Final Ward Melville 5 17 14 6 42 Riverhead 14 20 20 13 67