Eyan Valadez #1 of Friends Academy drives to the net...

Eyan Valadez #1 of Friends Academy drives to the net during the first quarter of the Nassau Class A semifinals against Floral Park at Farmingdale State College on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: James Escher

Two boys basketball teams showed up at Farmingdale State College Wednesday night and probably had to think real hard to remember the last time they had lost.

Top-seeded Friends Academy arrived riding a 15-game winning streak. Last loss: Dec. 17. Fifth-seeded Floral Park came in riding a 10-game winning streak. Last loss: Jan. 4.

Something had to give with a trip to the Nassau Class A championship game waiting to be secured.

In the end, Friends Academy’s streak lived and Floral Park’s ended.

And it was a freshman guard who did a lot to keep the Quakers’ streak and season alive. Eyan Valadez scored 22 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, and Friends Academy pulled out a 55-52 semifinal victory.

“He plays with so much heart,” coach Matt Johnsen said. “He played with composure down the stretch. We’d be a much different team without him. So him coupled with all the seniors and the experienced guys makes it hard to beat us.”

The Quakers (18-4) will face No. 2 North Shore, a 47-39 winner over No. 6 Cold Spring Harbor in Wednesday night's other semifinal. The title game is set for 1:15 Saturday back on Farmingdale State’s court.

This game was 50-50 after Anthony Caris, who scored 18, converted a drive for the Knights.

Then Valadez fed Jackson O’Brien for a shot in the lane and the lead with about 53 seconds left.

“He’s a great teammate,” said O’Brien, who scored 13. “He does everything he can to win. He sets up guys just like that. I couldn’t ask for a better point guard besides him and 23 (senior Jake Bock).”

After a Floral Park miss, Valadez drove for two, and it was 54-50. But Jim Driscoll finished a 14-point game by collecting an air ball and putting it in to slice it to two with 14.4 seconds left.

O’Brien then made one of two free throws for a three-point edge with 13.5 on the clock. After a timeout with nine seconds left, the Knights looked for a three. But their attempt was off target with about a second to go.

“The timing was off,” coach Sean Boyle said.

Friends Academy took an early eight-point lead. Floral Park caught up early in the second quarter. But the Knights’ season ended at 16-7.

“These guys are awesome, a terrific group,” Boyle said. “We have a bunch of seniors that are going to be heavily missed.”

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