Dec 18, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Four long seasons have passed since the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team last felt the particular sting that only a defeat to Bishop Ludden in the “Holy War” could bring.
And even when the Gaelic Knights returned the festivities to its loud, cramped home gym in Geddes on Friday night, the pattern of CBA domination continued.
Mostly by leaning on its airtight defense, and going inside to Greg Thomson in the second half, the Brothers pulled away and beat Ludden 50-36, its 10th straight win in the series.
Recent CBA-Ludden games had alternated between Onondaga Community College and LeMoyne, which gave the spectators room and plenty of parking spots – but took away some of the particular color and character of the rivalry.
That color returned on Friday, from the Ludden students decked out in green (many with painted faces) filling one full bleacher to the CBA students, many of them in purple tye-dye T-shirts, filling another bleacher.
The overflow crowd witnessed a first half not to the Brothers’ liking. True, CBA hit on six 3-pointers – three from Troy Bullock in the first quarter, then three more from Pete Corasaniti and Pat Wiese in the second quarter – as it raced to a 24-11 lead in the second quarter.
But Ludden, led by John Rooney and Jared Littlejohn, came back with 11 unanswered points and an overall 13-2 run, trimming the Brothers’ lead to one point, 25-24, at the half.
All through the half, CBA, reacting to the Gaelic Knights employing Syracuse-style 2-3 zone, settled for outside shots. As such, Thomson, the Brothers’ leading scorer this season, all but disappeared, hitting on just a single free throw.
Head coach Buddy Wleklinski said that his team knew it had to go back inside if it wanted to charge – and that’s exactly what happened.
Thomson still got lots of Ludden attention, but he still took charge on the boards and earned 11 second-half points to complement the work Bullock (12 points), Corasaniti (nine points) and Wiese (seven points) did.
Even more important, CBA’s defense made Ludden pay dearly for slowing down the tempo and using large portions of the 35-second clock on its possessions.
On the one hand, the slower pace kept the Gaelic Knights in it deep into the fourth quarter. But it also led to long droughts (two of four-plus minutes) when CBA applied its trademark man-to-man pressure.
Rooney, for example, did not get a point in the second half, and though Littlejohn led both sides with 17 points, he and his teammates struggled in the fourth quarter as CBA closed on a 14-4 run.
Improving to 4-0 on the season, the Brothers will host the annual CBA Holiday Classic on Dec. 29 and 30, playing Albany CBA in the first round, a rematch of last March’s Class AA regional final. Westhill is also in the field.