Pat Donnelly insists that his Bishop Ludden boys basketball team did not have it easier when it returned to the Class B ranks and the OHSL Liberty division after uneven years in Class A and the Freedom division.
"We're not dropping down," Donnelly said. "Top to bottom, it's a better league (than the Freedom division)."
Still, the Gaelic Knights are enjoying far more success in its new surroundings, as it moved to 3-0 on the season Tuesday night by putting together a 51-33 home victory over the Marcellus Mustangs in Geddes.
By far, Ludden's big concern on this night was how the team would respond a mere two days after beating one of the Liberty division favorites, Skaneateles, in the Holiday Classic at the Carrier Dome. And it had to take Marcellus seriously, since the Mustangs had won its opener Dec. 11 over Solvay in overtime.
From an offensive standpoint, the Gaelic Knights did let down a bit, not helped by the fact that guards Kelly Beaudoin and Matt Rogers both picked up three fouls in a sloppy, uneven first half.
What helped was that Ludden's defense, right from the start, caused all kinds of problems for Marcellus. Mixing in man-to-man and zone looks, the Gaelic Knights never gave the Mustangs much room and especially frustrated Steve Raven, who had just one point in the first half after accounting for 28 points against Solvay.
Despite this shutdown, Marcellus only trailed 25-14 at the half, and Raven got six points in the third quarter to help the Mustangs inch closer, to 33-26, temporarily causing concern among the home crowd.
But senior Casey Ganley and freshman Dan Kaigler made sure Ludden would prevail. Ganley mixed in nifty inside moves with some timely 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, while close behind Kaigler continued his impressive start by pouring in 17 points, Combined, they helped the Gaelic Knights outscore the Mustangs 17-7 in the fourth quarter.
In defeat, Carey Mielinicki led Marcellus with eight points, just ahead of Chaz Hayes, who got seven points. The Mustangs are back home Friday to face Jordan-Elbridge as the Gaelic Knights aim for four in a row against Hannibal.