It may have been the ugliest win that Alex Rawa, Matt Campanella and their senior teammates had experienced in their five seasons together. But it was also their most beautiful.
Points were hard to come by but the Falcons scored just enough of them to win a county title as No. 2 Locust Valley held on for a 27-24 win over No. 4 Cold Spring Harbor in the county Class B boys basketball final Saturday night at LIU Post.
Rawa is one of many seniors on Locust Valley who have been playing basketball -- and lacrosse and football -- together since eighth grade. They capped their senior seasons as county champions.
"We didn't shoot the ball well; it was an extremely ugly game," Rawa said. "But when you win, none of that stuff matters. I've been waiting for this moment my whole life. This means everything to me."
Chris Appell hit two free throws to put Locust Valley ahead by three with 21.4 seconds remaining. Cold Spring Harbor had one last opportunity to tie the score on an inbounds play under the hoop, but Luke O'Connell's fading corner three came up short.
Campanella had nine points to lead Locust Valley. Rawa and Joe Gilio each had eight.
With Cold Spring Harbor looking to take its first lead of the game in the final minute, Locust Valley's Bradley Conn blocked an outside jumper and Josh Brown, who led the Seahawks with eight points, couldn't convert on a turnaround as the shot clock expired.
Ben Jay had cut the Locust Valley lead to three after converting a three-point play to make it 25-22 with 4:10 remaining. O'Connell later made a spin move to create some space and hit a fadeaway to cut the lead to 25-24 with 2:22 left.
"It was really nerve-racking," Campanella said. "But for what we didn't get on offense, we made up for it with great defense."
Rawa scored six of his eight in the first quarter and Gilio hit a baseline floater to open the second quarter as Locust Valley took a 14-5 lead. Cold Spring Harbor's Josh Brown answered with a layup and Bobby Vavassis followed with a putback to help cut the Locust Valley lead to 16-10 at the half.
The loss brought an end to the unexpected run by Cold Spring Harbor. It started 0-7 but qualified for an outbracket game against Wheatley, which CSH won by one point, then upset seven-time defending county champ Malverne in the semifinals.
"I told the guys, just get us in the playoffs and then we're playing with house money," Cold Spring Harbor coach John Cartwell said. "It's been a good run. It's one of those seasons that you hate to see end."
Locust Valley plays Center Moriches in the Long Island championship at 7:30 p.m. March 6 at Farmingdale State.
"It's just a summarization of these kids and how hard they've worked," Locust Valley coach Tim Lomot said. "To win a county championship, it's great for the whole community. It shows the younger kids around Locust Valley that we can play basketball around here."