Floral Park point guard Frank Phelan was out for blood. No, really, Phelan was sent out of the game because there was a lot of blood on his uniform No. 22. So early in the fourth quarter, with his team holding a 15-point lead, Phelan went into the locker room to change his jersey.
He came out wearing the No. 5 of teammate Matt Monahan and the hits just kept on coming for this jersey boy. Phelan scored a career-best 23 points with 11 assists as host Floral Park turned back league-leader Valley Stream North, 81-59, Wednesday night in Nassau A-III.
Backcourt mate Brian Fox also had a big night, scoring 29 points as the Knights improved to 8-3. Noah Shy scored 24 points for the Spartans (9-2), who never really had a chance once Floral Park opened the game on a 19-2 run that featured two three-pointers by T.J. Cluess (15 points, 10 rebounds), one by Fox and a traditional three-point play by Phelan.
And, yes, Phelan drew first blood with a steal and lefty layup to open the game. “I’m so happy for Frankie because he does everything right,” Floral Park coach Sean Boyle said. “First one in the gym, last one out. As the point guard, he’s the head of our snake and tonight he showcased what he can do.”
Phelan and Fox did most of their damage beating their defenders off the dribble and getting to the basket for layups or, in Phelan’s case, dishing to open teammates. “We have great outside shooters and that opens the floor,” said Phelan who explained that the blood on his jersey came from a cut on his left hand that he didn’t realize he had until the referees stopped play and ordered him off the court.
“I usually look for my teammates first but if the shot is falling, I’ll keep going to the rim.”
Frequently this season, the Knights have lived by the sword of their three-point shooters but after hitting five in the first half, they found a much easier way to score. “The first time we played them (a 66-63 loss on Jan. 14), we let one slip away late,” Boyle said. “We recognized that they defended the perimeter so we looked for matchups and tried to give Brian and Frankie a chance to get to the basket. We love the perimeter and that sets up our drives. It allows us to stretch the floor.”
And frequent baskets off penetration allowed Floral Park to stretch its lead to as many as 28 points after a 13-0 fourth-quarter burst that included back-to-back layups by Fox. “We know we can get to the basket. We’re a good attacking team,” Fox said.
One that smelled blood.