Every Bishop Ludden girls basketball player that came back this season carried with them the bitter way the previous season had ended.
It took a well-contested 3-pointer from the corner by Cazenovia's Kiley Evans in the final seconds to send the Lakers past the Gaelic Knights in the 2008 Section III Class B-2 final, the sort of defeat that hurts for a long time.
Some of that hurt is gone -- but enough of it lingers, and Ludden eased some of that pain by going into Buckley Gym last Tuesday night and beating the Lakers 55-50.
In every way, Cazenovia was supposed to have the edge. It was 6-1, unbeaten (4-0) in the OHSL Liberty division, carried far more experience in its lineup, and was playing in its cozy, cramped home gym that has given lesser opponents fits.
None of this mattered to Ludden, who carried the game to Cazenovia early, quickening the pace and solving the Lakers' tough defense to take a 16-11 lead.
Every time Cazenovia tried to catch up, the Gaelic Knights answered, and the margin grew to 37-30 by the fourth quarter, which turned into a frantic finish.
On one end, Evans, going to Sacred Heart University next fall, poured in baskets, working her way to 23 points as teammate Lindsey Smith helped out with 13 points.
Meanwhile, Ludden kept getting fouled, forced to go to the line to protect its lead. Staying cool, the Gaelic Knights made 11 of those 15 foul shots and held on to win.
Fittingly, the three stars back from 2008 -- Michelle Roesch, Ashley Cianfriglia and Bella Knapp -- came through. Roesch had 15 points, with Cianfriglia close behind as she earned 14 points and Knapp got nine points. Kristen Ryan added six points. All of freshman Natalie Barletta's four points came from clutch free throws.
Back home Thursday night, the Gaelic Knights (5-2) will host Skanetaeles.