In the course of a single evening, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team grew up -- and may have grown into a winning force.
Visiting Liverpool last Tuesday night in its OHSL Colonial division opener, the Gaelic Knights made a late rally and used a well-timed 3-pointer to beat the Warriors by a score of 48-47.
Blending in a brand-new starting five, Ludden had finished third in the Windsor Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 24 and 25, then followed that split with nine full days of practice to prepare for league play.
And the first foe was a good one, for Liverpool, 4-17 a season ago, had crushed Union-Endicott and Johnson City in a similar trip to the Southern Tier on Thanksgiving weekend.
Any game between Ludden and Liverpool carries more meaning due to the presence of Jerry Wilcox, the one-time Gaelic Knights head coach who now operates on the Liverpool sidelines.
Together, they played a tight, physical battle. Ludden was held to six points in the first quarter, yet hung in and were down by just two, 22-20, at the break.
By the fourth quarter, Liverpool had a 37-33 lead, but now it was the Gaelic Knights' turn to shut an opponent down, creeping within two, 47-45, as time began to run low.
George Eunice, kept in check for much of the night (just four points), flashed open from beyond the arc -- and with 10 seconds left, his 3-pointer found the net to put Ludden ahead. Liverpool could not answer, and the Gaelic Knights had an enormous road win.
Prior to that, Andre Knighton was Ludden's main threat, with 16 points, while Daquan Grobsmith had eight points and Wes Valentine added six points. T.J. Davis paced Liverpool with 14 points.
At 2-1 on the season, Ludden has two games against city foes this week, going to Fowler on Tuesday before dueling with Class AA favorite Henninger Friday night in what is, at last, the team's home opener.