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Ludden falls to Nottingham in Class A semis

Something about the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team and LeMoyne College's Henninger Athletic Center just doesn't seem to fit.

The no. 10 seed Gaelic Knights' unlikely run through the Section III Class A playoffs came to an end Saturday night at LeMoyne, as a long first-half drought led to a 56-44 defeat to no. 6 seed Nottingham.

Ludden's last visit to LeMoyne came in January 2009, a game against Christian Brothers Academy where it did not score in the entire first quarter.

Something close to that happened here, too. The challenge was already immense, since Nottingham had moved to the Class A ranks for the playoffs after meeting Class AA foes in the regular season as part of the CNY Counties League.

Going in, the Gaelic Knights expected Nottingham to play the same zone defense it had used most of the time this season. But the Bulldogs switched to man-to-man in the early going, and Ludden would spend a long time trying to cope.

All the Gaelic Knights could manage was just two points in that first quarter - a slight improvement from the last time, but still a major struggle.

Yet Ludden only trailed 8-2 after one period and spent the rest of the half hanging on as the baskets finally started to fall. It was 20-14 as the two teams went to the break.

Each time the Gaelic Knights wanted to push closer in the second half, Nottingham would answer, whether it was drives to the goal from Jawan Simmons or a pair of timely 3-pointers from Cameron Isaac.

Though it wouldn't catch up, Ludden did fight all the way to the end. John Rooney got 22 points, 14 of them coming in a flurry in the final two minutes.

Still, that wasn't enough, as Simmons earned 19 points and Roosevelt Bullock got 10 of his 17 points from the free-throw line.

Nottingham advanced to meet Jamesville-DeWitt in next Sunday's Section III Class A final at Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Ludden finished with a 12-9 mark, having won back-to-back road playoff games over Whitesboro and Cortland to reach this point. It will see stars like Rooney, Jared Littlejohn, Mark DeAngelis, Omar Osbourne and Dennis Kelly depart.

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