Senior night is often an emotional night in the gym at Riverhead High School, but last night was especially poignant. It belonged to Riverhead High School coach Dave Spinella, who coached his last game — fittingly, a 70-29 victory over Lindenhurst.
Spinella is retiring after 16 years in Riverhead’s basketball program, 14 of which he spent coaching the girls varsity team. During his tenure, he guided Riverhead to the Class AA semifinals in 2012 with three championship seasons — 2008, 2012 and 2016 — and a coach of the year award.
Past and present members of the Blue Waves girls basketball teams were on hand for the special event, to present Spinella with flowers, a poster and most of all, to bid farewell to their much-beloved coach, affectionately called “Spin.” There were tears galore — even some girls on the Lindenhurst squad grew emotional.
Assistant coach Jalyn Brown — a key player on the 2012 L.I. championship team — said Spinella was a good person, motivator, and great coach. In the end, Brown broke down and cried.
Spinella thanked all his players, and spoke to the crowd on hand, expressing his thanks and describing how much he enjoyed coaching Riverhead girls.
The Blue Waves played with a lot of emotion and Lindenhurst never had a chance. In the end, as the final buzzer sounded on a final 70-29 victory, all eyes shifted to Spinella, who broke down and shed some tears on the shoulder of his assistant coach Paul Bertrum.
Photos and reporting by George Faella