Lady Blue Waves alumni proved last night that they still have what it takes. The Waves alumni defeated Bellport 51-34 in a game to benefit the Riverhead High School Women’s Basketball Recall Club.
Many of Riverhead’s 2012 Regional Championship team teammates took the field in a game hosted by Riverhead’s team captain Jalyn Brown. Coach Dave Spinella, who coached the Waves to the state semi-finals and was named Suffolk Coach of the Year in 2012, was back on the sidelines.
It almost seemed like a decade hadn’t passed since that legendary season in Riverhead’s women’s basketball history – their game was so smooth and there was so much excitement in the gym.
The stands on the home side of the gymnasium were packed with fans.
See the previous story: Blue Waves commemorates 10th anniversary of championship season with alumni basketball game
“Last night was amazing,” Brown said this morning. “Seeing all my former teammates. Attendance was great! I checked my phone after the game and got 50 unread messages about the game. That’s how good the turnout was,” she said.
Brown, who coaches women’s basketball for Suffolk County Community College, said she was surprised at how well she played last night. “I guess shooters never lose touch,” she said.
“It was such an honor to play for us again 10 years after our championship. It felt like home and it will always be home,” Brown said.
After the team members’ introductions, the Waves paid tribute to Riverhead High School’s Chief of Security, Don Henderson, who passed away suddenly last month. The gym fell silent in memory of the beloved “Mr. Henderson”, then Brown broke the silence with Henderson’s signature cafeteria announcement: “We have a birthday in the house”, which the announcer resumed, continuing: “We have a birthday in the house…HOME…HOME!”
“I think the best part of the night was having Spinella back on the sidelines as coach,” Brown said. “All of the former students who participated last night played for him during their high school careers.”
“It was a fun night,” Spinella said this morning. “It was a great night for women’s sports and great to celebrate these young women.”
Spinella said he was happy that the team members over the years turned out to be playing. While 2012 was “obviously a memorable experience”, he said, “I remember every team”. Standing there while the national anthem played, he said, sparked memories of every team he coached at Riverhead during his 16 years coaching women’s basketball – 14 years in as a varsity coach and two as a junior varsity coach.
An English teacher at Riverhead High School, Spinella retired from coaching a few years ago to have more time to spend with his family. “I still miss coaching every day,” he said. “I miss teaching [basketball] and be in the gym.
He said he was honored to be part of last night’s event. “That was very nice of Coach Hickson [the Waves girls varsity coach] reach out and ask me to be a part of it,” Spinella said.
Last night’s event raised $900 for the Riverhead Girls Basketball Booster Club.
“A big shout out to varsity head coach Cherese Hickson,” Brown said. Hickson’s help made the event possible, she said.
“We’re already ready to plan for next year,” Brown said.
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