Working through key injuries and one of the most difficult schedules any Section III squad could face, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team needed a respite so that it could heal and regroup.
Instead, the Gaelic Knights found itself face-to-face with the Jamesville-DeWitt juggernaut last Thursday night, and while it stayed close for a half, Ludden could not keep the Red Rams from prevailing 72-41, J-D's 35th win in a row.
To say that this month has been tumultuous for the Gaelic Knights would be a vast understatement, dating all the way back to head coach Pat Donnelly getting his 400th career win on Jan. 2 against East Syracuse-Minoa.
Right after that, senior center Frank Smith got a suspension, and sat out four games. Both Jared Littlejohn (shoulder) and John Rooney (deep thigh bruise) lost time due to injuries, and the Gaelic Knights mustered just 27 points in a loss to archrival CBA.
The real kicker, though, was a seven-day stretch where Ludden had to play three times. It started with a close Jan. 17 loss at home to state Class B no. 1-ranked Bishop Kearney (Rochester), then continued last Tuesday with a 52-31 loss at Binghamton.
And now came a trip to J-D to face the defending state Class A champions, who had just ousted New York City power Lincoln and had cracked USA Today's East Regional Top 10, earning the no. 9 spot.
Like so many others that faced J-D, Ludden had to endure a rough opening act, falling behind 15-1 in the game's first five minutes. It was 21-6 by the end of the first quarter.
But when Brandon Triche, J-D's Syracuse University-bound senior leader, got his second foul early in the second quarter, Ludden pounced. Rick Montgomery had eight of his 14 points in that frame and helped the Gaelic Knights slash the deficit to 29-22 by halftime. The Rams got so frustrated that Alshwan Hymes picked up a technical foul just before the break.
Gradually, J-D would get clear, starting with a 7-0 outburst early in the second quarter, then getting 10 points in less than 90 seconds early in the fourth quarter to end any suspense.
Triche concentrated more on passing, as he finished with 10 points. Hymes and 6-9 freshman DaJuan Coleman led J-D with 13 points apiece. For the Gaelic Knights, Montgomery and Smith (10 points) both hit double figures.
Ludden finally gets that chance to rest this week, before putting its 10-6 mark on the line Friday against Fowler, a team it lost to back on Dec. 16.