Given all the circumstances leading up to it, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team was quite eager to get a shot at Fowler in last Tuesday night's opening round of the Section III Class A playoffs.
Yet all the no. 8 seed Gaelic Knights got for that eager attitude was a quick exit, delivered by the no. 9 seed Falcons in a 47-37 decision.
It marked the second year in a row Ludden's season ended at home, at Fowler's expense. In 2008, it was a 50-49 Falcons win in the Class A quarterfinals, but the differences went beyond the fact that it took place in an earlier round this time.
Back on Feb. 2, Fowler was supposed to play at Ludden, but the Falcons never showed up, and the game was not made up. The Gaelic Knights did not like it, but the playoffs gave Ludden a chance for proper atonement.
Fired up at the start, Ludden sprinted ahead of Fowler 15-6, but the shots started to go off target in the second quarter, amid Fowler's relentless defensive pressure.
After pulling within five (25-20) at the break, the Falcons really took charge in the third quarter, nearly doubling its output while holding Ludden to seven points.
Given that Frank Smith (two points) got held in check, teammates Rick Montgomery and John Rooney could not make up for it, despite 13 points apiece. Jared Littlejohn added six points.
Fowler, meanwhile, leaned on Chris Gilkes, and the forward delivered with 21 points to lead both sides, with Malcolm Jones and Ron Monroe each adding eight points.
Ludden finished with a record of 12-8, though it did claim the OHSL Freedom American division regular-season title and saw head coach Pat Donnelly win his 400th game this season. Five seniors -- Smith, Montgomery, Nick Familio, Jim Sierotnik and Kevin Bullock -- depart, with Rooney the main returning threat next winer.