That’s the best word to describe the atmosphere at Riverhead High School on Tuesday.
On a night when seniors were honored, it was the seniors that led the Blue Waves to the victory, 72-41, against the hapless West Islip Lions.
Sharron Trent and Tyrese Kerr led the Blue Waves in scoring with 15 points a piece. Steven Asconia chipped in 10 and Lintell Brown added eight.
But the story was the defense. Just two minutes into the game, Riverhead already had four steals. They had 11 by the end of the first quarter.
“We came out hungry,” Trent said. “We knew we needed this win to make the playoffs.”
Kerr and Trent were extremely efficient on both sides of the ball. They also combined for 11 steals.
A season seemingly crippled by midseason losses after a very strong start, started to threaten Riverhead’s chances of making the playoffs. But that all went away. The win against West Islip secured the Blue Waves seventh league win to clinch a playoff berth.
“It’s a long season,” Kerr said. “I would have liked to make the playoffs much earlier but we’ll take it. We still made it.”
Head coach John Rossetti let the team celebrate but brought them down to earth after the game.
“A certain media outlet questioned whether we’d even make the playoffs,” Rosetti proclaimed post-game in the locker room. “They said if we make the playoffs. That’s what I think of their if!”
Deservingly so, a playoff berth means a new life. Records become irrelevant. The best team on the court will win.
Chances are Riverhead (7-7 League III, 8-10 overall) will end up with a very low seed in an out-bracket game. That will be determined by Wednesday afternoon by the SectionXI committee.
The playoffs will begin Thursday.
“People may look at us because we’re going to be an 18 or 19 seed and call it an upset if we win but I don’t think so,” Rossetti said. “We’re a good basketball team. Maybe our record doesn’t show it but I don’t think there’s a team in the county that’s saying, ‘Oh we want to play Riverhead.'”