SYRACUSE Faced with the possibility that its long win streak in the 'Holy War' was about to end, the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team found another way to fight past Bishop Ludden.
It came in the form of sophomore Charlie Russo hitting critical shots, from the field and at the foul line, as the Brothers topped the Gaelic Knights 46-39 in Sunday night's Holiday Tip-off Classic at the Carrier Dome.
That CBA and Ludden were back together was a positive development. The rivalry had taken a break for two years, mostly because of a shorter regular-season schedule (18 games, instead of 20) and the fact that the two schools were in separate Onondaga High School League divisions.
But an opening in this year's schedule, and the chance to play in the Dome, created another chance for the Brothers and Gaelic Knights to square off, and they arrived in contrasting manners.
Ludden had played only half of its opener Friday night against Solvay, and were crushing Solvay 41-7 at halftime when the lights at the Solvay High School gym went out. It was decided to stop the game and resume it Dec. 22.
CBA's opener had come Saturday, in the Peppino's Invitational at Henninger, and the defending Class AA champion Black Knights had, from start to finish, shut the Brothers down in a 62-32 decision. And those offensive struggles would carry over to its reunion with Ludden.
Shut out for nearly four minutes at the start of the game, CBA fell behind, 8-0, but it would settle down, mostly by asserting its own man-to-man defense on the Gaelic Knights for the rest of a sloppy, uneven half. They went to the break even, 19-19.
Somehow, the Brothers' defense improved in the third period, to the tune of holding Ludden to a single field goal, and it led 31-23 early in the fourth quarter. Now it was the Gaelic Knights' turn to surge, using a 9-0 run to inch back in front 32-31.