In the end, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team got just about everything it wanted out of last Saturday's battle with Bishop Grimes during the Peppino's Classic at Henninger High School.
Most importantly, the Gaelic Knights got the win, 68-55, improving to 3-0 on the season - but it was the way the game played itself out that could bode well for the future.
First, Ludden got off to a near-perfect start, dominating the Cobras and building a 20-point first-half margin. And when the Cobras made its inevitable second-half run to make it interesting, the Gaelic Knights did not panic and answered with timely baskets.
Having not played a game in eight days, Ludden had a reason to feel concerned about rust -- but those concerns went away in a hurry.
With terrific defensive pressure and hot starts from Frank Smith and John Rooney, the Gaelic Knights scored the game's first 10 points, had an 18-5 edge at one point late in the first quarter, then stretched its lead to 32-12 midway through the second period.
And even though Grimes finally started to put in some baskets late in the half, Ludden still went to the locker room well out in front, 37-19, with little reason to be concerned.
Soon enough, though, the Cobras gave them concern, using a 9-0 run in the middle part of the third quarter to get back in the game and closing within six, 43-37, before Rooney and Smith hit on back-to-back baskets to get Ludden going again.
Ahead 56-45 with less than four minutes to play, the Gaelic Knights still wasn't home free, as Grimes pulled back within five, 60-55, with more than a minute left. But Ludden would score the game's last eight points to settle it.
Smith dominated the paint all afternoon, finishing with 22 points. Rooney had 15 points, while Rick Montgomery, quiet much of the game, got 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. Mike Stone led Grimes with 18 points, as teammates Steve Dillmore (11 points) and Joe Basla (10 points) also reaching double figures.
Ludden goes for four in a row Tuesday at Fowler before back-to-back weekend games, including a Friday home date with East Syracuse-Minoa and a Saturday trip to Fulton. Grimes, 1-2 on the season, meets Westhill on Tuesday before going home Friday to face Solvay.