SYRACUSE Painful as the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team's 46-39 defeat to archrival CBA in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 11 was, it also, said head coach Pat Donnelly, served a useful purpose for his young Gaelic Knights - that despite its enormous talent, it simply could not show up on the court and expect an opponent to step aside.
With that lesson heeded, the Gaelic Knights gave 4-0 Cazenovia a rude greeting Friday night in Geedes, relying on the high production of sophomores Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett to earn a 60-42 victory over the Lakers.
Across town, Westhill, the two-time defending Section III Class B champions, got a scare from Solvay, but came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Bearcats 43-40.
Ludden knew that, against Cazenovia, it had a major size advantage in the paint, and they left it up to Kaigler and Hackett to fully exploit that edge.
In barely two minutes, Ludden had a 10-2 lead, forcing the Lakers to use a time-out. That did little to slow the Gaelic Knights, though, as the lead grew to 21-9 late in the first quarter.
Kaigler proved unstoppable throughout the half. In a 10-second span early in the second quarter, he hit a basket, drew a foul, sank the ensuing free throw and, on Cazenovia's next possession, made a steal and drove home a dunk.
All told, Kaigler had 20 points, as many as the entire Laker squad, while Hackett earned 13 of his 16 points in the half as Ludden bolted to a 42-20 edge by halftime. Cameron Littlejohn's trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter halted any Laker comeback attempt as Kaigler would add 10 rebounds to earn a double-double.
In stark contrast to Ludden's comfortable margin, Westhill had to really scramble against Solvay in the first encounter between the two neighbors since the Warriors ousted the Bearcats in last February's sectional Class B quarterfinal.