If the Riverhead boys basketball team needs an excuse, it has one: the Blue Waves have been placed in Suffolk’s League II, assuring a killer schedule and lots of travel hours.
Instead, the league’s easternmost team has adapted quite nicely, thank you, as witnessed by a satisfying 70-59 victory over Bayport on Friday, January 11. Riverhead, playing at home, did what a good team does: it imposed its will on the visitors in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, overcoming a four-point third-quarter deficit in the process.
Quashiem Miller, a six-foot three-inch senior who looks comfortable against the big bodies in League II, finished with a game-high 26 points and 14 rebounds, while Robert Tyre, also the same height, added 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. The Phantoms tried in vain to keep the duo from getting the ball, but both pounded the offensive boards, creating multiple scoring opportunities. The visitors wore down in the waning minutes.
The win moves Riverhead into a playoff spot, at least for the moment, and provides momentum going into the meat of a nasty schedule: games against traditional state powerhouse Half Hollow Hills East (6-1, 9-2 overall) and Northport, 6-2 in league play, lurk this week. The locals play in the Hills on January 24 and at Northport on Thursday, January 17. Tip off on the latter one is 6 PM.
High Five To League V
Speaking of tough schedules, put League V near the top of the list. Every team brings it, every night. Just ask East Hampton and Westhampton, two solid squads with postseason aspirations that, more often than not, end up on the short end of the final score. Bonac is 2-6 in the league after running into a hot Amityville team on January 10. The Warriors, playing at home, had way too much firepower, coasting 84-69. It was one of those games when Bonac, devastated by injuries, missed its tallest player and best rebounder, Bladimir Rodriquez. “He was the one player we really couldn’t afford to lose. We have no one to replace him,” coach Dan White lamented early in the season. His worst fears turned out to be true: Bonac won 11 games last season but is having trouble finishing off games this time around.
The Warriors’ Mike Goddard (15) and Divaahd Lucas combined for 25 rebounds. Milachi Miller, with 21, and Jeremy Vizcaino led the locals in a losing effort.
Bonac tried its luck in an interleague fray against Greenport on Saturday, January 12, but the Class C powerhouse ran past them 91-60. Jaxan Swann racked up 25 points and eight rebounds, and brother Jude Swann added 20 points and 11 rebounds. All-Everything Ahkee Anderson chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in the victory. Miller (19) and Vizcaino (13) led the losers.
Center Moriches, the defending state Class B champion, is building a dynasty under coach and former Bridgehampton point guard Nick Thomas, putting Southampton, the usual powerhouse in these parts, in a stalking position. The two teams hold down first and second place in League VI, and if you don’t think it rankles Southampton, consider that the Mariners’ All-County performer Micah Snowden left Southampton for Center Moriches for this, his senior year.
The Red Devils, 6-0 in league play, took apart a good Hampton Bays team on January 10, 86-41. Snowden, as usual, checked all the boxes: points, 11; assists, six, and rebounds, 14. Paired with Sean Braithwaite Jr., Center Moriches’s dynamic duo makes for a powerful one-two punch. On this night Braithwaite, a six-five senior guard who will make some college program extremely happy, allied 23 points, assisted on nine other buckets, and grabbed nine boards. It’s time to include the youngster in the Player of the Year chatter, especially if Moriches makes it into the state tournament again. He’s averaging 20 points per game, 19th in the county.
Southampton, 6-1, will have say in that.
The Mariners took out Babylon 87-31 on January 8 to run their league record to 6-1. It’s not just how the team is doing it: we know this is a run and gun team. It’s the depth of execution and the stifling defense that sets up the running game that is causing nightmares around the league.
Southampton faces Mattituck at home Friday, January 18, in a game the Tuckers (3-3) need badly.
In League VIII, two teams expecting post-season success are sharpening their talons. The Bridgehampton Killer Bees, who have a straight road to the Class D playoffs, are already in playoff mode. On January 8, the Bees outmuscled Pierson 77- 55. JP Harding, impossible to control in the paint, had 36 points and 27 rebounds and Elijah White had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists to lead Bridgehampton, (3-1) in League VII. Harding is fourth in Suffolk, averaging over 24 points per game.