NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- They got to ride in the Coach bus. Beyond the sadness and disappointment of their dream season coming to an end, East Rockaway found solace in that.
New Paltz isn't quite as far upstate as twins Mikey and Joey Lores had promised their dad, coach Joe Lores, they would venture this season. But, Joey said, "we went far enough that we didn't have to take the little yellow school bus. We went somewhere."
As far as any Rocks boys basketball team has ever gotten.
This season's joy ride -- on which East Rockaway captured its second Long Island championship and first since 2003 -- was halted Saturday with a 72-58 loss to Tuckahoe in the Class C regional final at SUNY New Paltz. One stop short of Glens Falls for the state tournament.
Sky Williams and Shyheim Nixon each scored 20 points, and Justin Nolan 15 for Tuckahoe (23-0), which will compete in the state semifinals March 16.
"The toughest part is we don't get to do this anymore," Joe Lores said of coaching his sons, who are among the team's seven seniors. "I've been coaching them since they were 5 and are some of their closest friends. They've all been in my house, playing in the backyard since they were little kids."
Sean Bohan scored 15 points, David McClure 14 and Mikey Lores 12 for East Rockaway (12-8).
The Tigers, who led most of the way, used a 23-11 fourth quarter to pull away. The Rocks got within 55-50 on McClure's layup with 5:30 remaining, but Nolan answered with a steal and fast-break layup. Mark Raymond's two buckets in the low post pushed the lead to 61-50 with 3:17 left.
East Rockaway had three brief leads in the first half -- the last being 18-17 early in the second quarter -- and trailed 32-30 at intermission.
"[The Rocks] run their offensive sets well, so we had to play more disciplined defense," Williams said. Tuckahoe had lost to Friends Academy in this game last year. "We were letting them drive the middle for layups. We took control when we stopped that."
The Tigers had spurts of dominance in the third quarter, but the Rocks rallied to keep within striking distance. Mikey Lores' 30-foot three at the buzzer got them within 49-45 entering the fourth.
But, Bohan said, "They're an up-tempo team and we made some bad passes and that allowed them to run at their pace."
Nevertheless, this was a team that won eight of its previous nine games to reach this point. "It hurts now," Lores, the coach of 23 years, said. "But [eventually] they'll look back and be proud of the accomplishments."
The long-ago promise of a trip to states made to their father, it wasn't spoken about afterward, Mikey Lores said. It didn't have to be.
"This was special," the coach said. "This group, this year. If I had to handpick a year to make a great run, it would have been this one."