In the end, it was a Bittersweet 16 for Floral Park.
The Knights had gone where no 16 seed had ever gone in the history of Nassau County boys basketball, but their magical ride ended Saturday when they lost to No. 7 Valley Stream South, 49-43, in the Class A championship game at Hofstra.
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"Our kids thrived all season with the underdog mentality," Floral Park coach Sean Boyle said. "We knew we weren't really a 16 seed, but we didn't tell the kids that."
The inconsistent Knights (14-8), lost their last two regular-season games and had to win an outbracket game against Locust Valley just to earn the right to face No. 1 seed South Side in a first-round game on Feb. 13. That's when the journey really began, as Floral Park won a stunner, 79-77, behind 41 points from Kevin Cluess.
It was the first time a No. 16 had ever defeated a No. 1 seed in the Nassau boys playoffs since the seeding process began in 1964, according to county historians Jack White and Joe Giannotti. And no team seeded lower than No. 8 had ever won a county title.
"After the South Side game, we said, 'Why not a No. 16? Why not us? Why not now?' " Boyle said. "Then we told the players that and they bought into it."
Floral Park beat Manhasset and Carey to reach Saturday's final, then rallied to within 44-40 with 1:24 left on freshman Brian Fox's fifth three-pointer, but got no closer.
"We made a run, but it was too little, too late," said Cluess, who scored 10 points in his final high school game. "We had some cool times throughout the playoffs and we were happy to be in the gym still practicing this time of year."
Cluess was one of several seniors that Boyle said "wiped away some tears" in the postgame locker room.
"I would've liked the county championship," Cluess said, "but we will always remember the ride."