Solvay girls earn crucial win over Ludden

Given the timing of it all, and the quality of the opponent, it proved to be the Solvay girls basketball team's biggest win of the 2007-08 season.

Playing with controlled fury and excelling on defense, the Bears avenged a Jan. 3 defeat to Bishop Ludden, beating the Gaelic Knights 49-37 and possibly altering the way both teams would get seeded for the Section III Class B playoffs.

Since its 9-0 start long ago, the Bearcats had gone 3-6, hurt at times by a lack of offensive consistency and worn down by the grind of the OHSL Liberty division, plus its competitive experience at Disney World over the holiday break.

Ludden, meanwhile, had secured second place in the league behind Cazenovia. The Gaelic Knights knew that, if it could run like it did in the first meeting against Solvay and get the same kind of deadly outside shooting from Molly Byrne and Ashley Cianfriglia, it could prevail again.

But Solvay was ready for this rematch. It crashed the boards on both ends, then double-teamed Byrne any time she touched the ball and watched as Cianfriglia, so hot in recent games, take 3-point shots that did not find the target.

Meanwhile, Tessa Pucello (despite two early fouls) and Chelsey Chavez-Egan led the way as Solvay raced out to a 21-8 edge in the second quarter, a complete reversal from the first meeting, where it was the Gaelic Knighs that started fast and never got caught.

Early in the second half, Ludden began to stir. After letting the deficit grow to 27-12, it outscored Solvay 16-6 the rest of the third quarter and, early in the final period, made it 33-30 as Solvay went more than five minutes without a point.

Kelly Kaltenbach ended that drought, hitting a huge 3-pointer with 5:07 left to double the lead to 36-30. Ludden never got closer than five points again as the 3-pointers refused to fall.

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