If it could pull off a regular-season sweep of Cazenovia, the Bishop Ludden girls basketball team stood an excellent chance of snaring the OHSL Liberty division regular-season title.
And the Gaelic Knights came as close as one could to pulling it off.
Only a missed shot, here and there, kept Ludden from knocking off the Lakers in Wednesday night's 47-46 thriller in Geddes, yet another close contest between these growing rivals.
Ludden trailed by one when, with less than five seconds left, Ashley Cianfriglia drove to the left side and took a 10-foot jumper from the baseline. It rolled off the rim.
Cazenovia's Ashley Stec drew a foul with 1.6 seconds left. Though she missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, she got her own rebound, and ran out the clock.
So ended the latest chapter in a rivalry that started to build a year ago when Kiley Evans' last-second 3-pointer gave Cazenovia the Section III Class B-2 title at Ludden's expense.
The Gaelic Knights achieved a bit of revenge when it won a 53-50 thriller at Cazenovia on Jan. 6. In the meantime, though, the Lakers had soared to first place in the OHSL Liberty division -- helped there by Ludden toppling then-undefeated Westhill on Jan. 30, a mere two days before Cazenovia earned its own win over the Warriors.
On this night, the Gaelic Knights' defensive intentions were clear -- focus on the Lakers' star player, Kiley Evans, and make her teammates generate the scoring. They got half the job done, as Evans had just four points. But the Lakers would adjust well.
Kassie Kleine's pair of 3-pointer led to an early 12-4 Cazenovia edge. Twice in the first half, the Lakers had substantial leads, but both times Ludden rallied, and Michelle Roesch's 3-pointer just before the half created a 22-22 tie.