To keep touch with the leaders in the close OHSL Liberty division race, the Bishop Ludden girls basketball team had to defend its home court and complete a regular-season sweep of defending Class B champion Cazenovia.
With a tough-minded approach, the Gaelic Knights did just that, using its defense to step up at crucial moments to establish a cushion that led to a 42-36 victory over the Lakers. The win kept Ludden in second place in the OHSL Liberty division, just behind Westhill.
True, Cazenovia was a much better team than the one Ludden had beat back on Dec. 1, having knocked off previously unbeaten Westhill nine days before facing the Gaelic Knights.
As Ludden (8-3, 8-2 league) quickly found out, that improvement included perimeter defense. The Gaelic Knights rarely had a chance to convert anything from the outside in the first half, and Cazenovia kept pace, only trailing 21-20 at the break.
Throughout this, though, Ludden had played sound defense. And it got even better in the third quarter, when the Gaelic Knights held the Lakers to a scant five points and, with Ashley Cianfriglia hitting key outside shots, extended its margin to 32-25.
Ludden would hang on from there, as Cianfriglia's 18 points included all three of her team's 3-pointers. Michelle Roesch had eight points, with Lauren Roy and Natalie Barletta earning seven points apiece. In defeat, Cazenovia got 12 points from Raeanne Clabeaux and 11 points from Ellen Burr.
Three nights earlier, Ludden had gone to Solvay last Tuesday and beat the Bearcats 54-41. The game was tied, 12-12, when the Gaelic Knights started to assume control in the middle stages, holding Solvay to nine points in both the second and third periods.
What's more, Solvay paid for all the attention it gave to Cianfriglia, for it left Bella Knapp open to hit on four 3-pointers on her way to 17 points for the night.