To move into the second week of the Section III playoffs, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team would have to avenge two regular-season defeats to Cortland in Friday night's Class A quarterfinal round.
And the Gaelic Knights pulled it off, rallying to stun the Purple Tigers 53-52 in overtime to cap off a week full of surprises that reinforced the team's image as a force in big games.
This game had all sorts of momentum shifts. Ludden, the no. 10 seed, hit no. 2 seed Cortland hard in the opening stages, as John Rooney's baskets heped the Gaelic Knights race to a 16-12 lead.
Then Ludden went cold, managing just four points in the second quarter as Cortland went back in front. Things got worse after halftime, too, as a balanced Purple Tigers attack stretched the margin out to 37-28 by the time the fourth quarter.
It appeared that, for the third time in as many months, the Gaelic Knights would swing and miss in Cortland's direction -- but just in time, Ludden would save itself.
Two seniors - Rooney, who finished with 19 points, and Jared Littlejohn, who had 15 points -- sparked the rally as the Purple Tigers' slowly dissipated.
Then, with the score 48-46 and time winding down in regulation, Littlejohn pulled up near the basket and hit an eight-foot jumper with two seconds left, tying it 48-48. Cortland could not answer, and it went to overtime.
Baskets proved precious in the four-minute OT session, as Rooney and Littlejohn could not continue their hot play. But Tyler Young, quiet most of the night, drained a 3-pointer that proved to be the difference.
Ludden won despite four Cortland players -- Jordan Prior (15 points), Brandon Babcock (14 points), Justin Hogan and Jeff Brown (10 points each) hitting in double figures. Mark DeANgelis, with seven points, provided Rooney and Littlejohn with the most help.
So Ludden (12-8) plays in the Class A semifinal against no. 6 seed Nottingham, who needed double overtime (and a Roosevelt Bullock buzzer-beater) to stop Indian River in the first round, then went to no. 3 seed Whitesboro and prevaile 50-42.
The winner of this game, to be played Saturday at 5:30 at LeMoyne College, gets Jamesville-DeWitt or Utica-Notre Dame in the March 7 final at Utica Memorial Auditorium.