In a single moment of grand opportunity, the Bishop Ludden girls basketball team had a chance to do what no one in the Section III Class B ranks had done since 2002 -- beat South Jefferson in the playoffs.
The Gaelic Knights' chance came in last Saturday's Class B-1 semifinal at Sandy Creek High School - but as soon as the opportunity rose up, the Spartans snatched it away in its own unique and maddening way.
Proving that it had every intention of extending its six-year championship reign, South Jefferson controlled things from the start and never let Ludden into the argument during a 48-28 decision.
Much of the game centered around whether the Gaelic Knights' potent, multifaceted offense (nearly 69 points a game while winning five in a row leading into the semifinal) could continue to function effectively against the Spartans' vaunted defense.
The answer came in a hurry. Ludden found itself having a cold outing from the perimeter -- but more importantly, South Jefferson dominated the boards, not allowing the Gaelic Knights many second looks. For the day, top scorers Ashley Cianfriglia and Michelle Roesch had just one field goal between them.
Meanwhile, the Spartans' size advantage also worked on the other end, as forward Maddy Wetterhahn put together much of her 14 points and nine rebounds in the first half as South Jefferson blazed out to a 28-11 advantage.
It didn't get closer in the second half, despite freshman Natalie Barletta picking up 14 points and Bella Knapp adding seven points. Both Wetterhahn and Rachael Bassett, who also had 14 points, paced South Jefferson as it advanced to meet Cazenovia in Tuesday night's B-1 final.
With the loss, Ludden finished with a 15-6 mark, quite good given the fact that no seniors were on the roster.
Cianfriglia, Roesch, Knapp, Barletta, Kayla Kibling and Kristen Ryan will all return in 2009-10, making Ludden a heavy favorite to gain both league and sectional honors.