As spirited as the boys basketball rivalry between Bishop Ludden and Christian Brothers Academy has been, a sense of perspective always has run through it. After all, the first game between the Gaelic Knights and Brothers was played Nov. 22, 1963 -- just hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
And in the shadow of another unexpected tragedy -- the stabbing death of 2007 Ludden graduate Wesley Valentine - Ludden came to Onondaga Community College on Super Bowl Sunday determined to beat the Brothers for the first time since 2005 -- a string of six consecutive defeats.
But try as it could with a gallant second-half rally, the Gaelic Knights could not overcome a flat first half, watching as CBA hung on for a 55-48 victory that extended the skid to seven and moved the Brothers to a 42-40 edge in the "Holy War" series.
Early Friday morning, outside a club on Syracuse' north side, Valentine, 18 and a freshman at OCC, lost his life, casting a deep cloud over the game that was supposed to be played later that night before an ice storm forced a postponement.
Yet even on Sunday, the emotions ran high. Ludden's players wore black ribbons on their warm-up suits and black stripes on the left shoulder of their jerseys.
Prior to the game, both teams and the large crowd, instead of observing a moment of silence, gave Valentine a one-minute standing ovation in his memory. Ludden fans hoped that the charged emotions created by Valentine's death would translate into an inspired performance against the team's biggest rival.
Instead, the Gaelic Knights played the first half in a collective daze, unable to hit any kind of outside shots or get rebounds -- even when CBA's star forward, Mike Goodman, left the game with two early fouls and did not play the rest of the half.