As it roared out to a 3-0 start, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team had the luxury of not having to deal with any kind of hostile setting, winning twice at home and beating Bishop Grimes Dec. 13 on a neutral court at Henninger.
But when the Gaelic Knights played its first true road game of the season last Tuesday night at Fowler, it saw everything fall apart in the fourth quarter of a 63-46 loss to the Falcons.
What made the game hurt even more was that Ludden wanted to avenge last year's 50-49 home defeat to Fowler in the Section III Class A quarterfinals. And the odds were supposed to get better after the Falcons' 6-9 freshman, DaJuan Coleman, transferred to Jamesville-DeWitt.
Ludden and Fowler played through a tight first half, with the Gaelic Knights edging in front and taking that 28-26 advantage to the break.
Fowler didn't waver, though, and grabbed the lead in the third quarter. It then took over in the final period, closing on a 21-7 run.
Frank Smith led Ludden with 15 points, but Rick Montgomery (nine points) and John Rooney (six points) finished well below their season averages. Meanwhile, the Falcons' Tyshiem Barfield earned 19 points and Ron Monroe added 17 points.
After the postponement of Friday's game with East Syracuse-Minoa, Ludden went north to face Fulton as part of the annual "Hoops For Hope" event at SUNY-Oswego.
The Red Raiders would put the Gaelic Knights through a stern test, working all the way to the wire before Ludden held on to win by a score of 52-48.
Montgomery and Rooney roared back to form, as Montgomery earned 18 points and Rooney added 15 points, many of them in the first half as Ludden steadily worked its way to a 31-22 halftime advantage. Smith would add 10 points.
That advantage held until the fourth quarter, when Fulton, getting 14 points from Jeff Crofoot and 12 points from Gary Kemp, roared back and made it nervous at the end -- but the Gaelic Knights would hang on.
Beginning on Saturday, Ludden (4-1) will host its annual Rosemary Corcoran Holiday Tournament, and will meet rising Class AA power Central Square in the opening round as teams from outside the area fill out the field. The consolation and championship games are both on Sunday.