Alison Ricchiuti was waiting for this moment for a long time. The four-year Herricks varsity player has been a part of league championship teams, including co-league champions this season, but had yet to win a playoff game.
Ricchiuti, a junior guard, made sure the Highlanders felt the euphoria of a playoff victory for the first time since 2007. Ricchiuti scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half and had eight assists to help host No. 6 Herricks defeat No. 11 Valley Stream Central, 60-30, Friday night in the first round of the Nassau Class AA girls basketball playoffs. Herricks (16-2) will play at No. 3 MacArthur in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
"This is what we wanted to do for the past four years," Ricchiuti said. "Our goal all season was to win at least one playoff game. Now, we finally got it."
Ricchiuti scored seven points in a 17-8 first quarter. With Valley Stream Central (10-8) trailing 21-13 in the second quarter, Ricchiuti hit two free throws, scored on a putback, and scored on a runner. She totaled eight points in the quarter to help give Herricks a 29-15 lead at the half.
"That was a big thing to start off fast," she said. "We were all nervous, so once we got a 10-point lead, everyone could relax a bit."
Added Herricks coach Glenn Lavey: "Alison has been great all year. There's a lot of pressure on her. If she doesn't play well, we usually don't.''
Not only did she play well, but so did the rest of the team. Freshman Erin Rivera scored a career-high 17 points and Kim Givelechian had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots for Herricks, which matched its season high for points.
"The role kids stepped up," Lavey said. "That was the difference. It's nice when everything comes together. We never shot like that. We defend like that every game. We put ourselves in a position to win at home. For this group of kids, it's a big accomplishment. They started out with a poor record as freshmen."