Head coach Jamie Evans had a simple description of his Bishop Grimes boys basketball team's 64-51 victory over Bishop Ludden Friday night in East Syracuse.
"That was our first big win of the season," said Evans. "We needed it."
Indeed, the Cobras had been waiting all season to earn a quality win over any of the other three main OHSL Liberty division contenders - Ludden, Westhill and first-place Skaneateles. All of Grimes' losses had come to them in close decisions, including a 56-54 defeat to the Gaelic Knights back on Dec. 22 in Geddes.
For the rematch, the Cobras were back home, which didn't work for them right away. Not only did it fall behind Ludden 16-9, but in pursuit of a loose ball, two starters, Mike Sugamosto and Casey Evans, dove and hit their heads together, making them temporarily woozy.
Within minutes, though, Sugamosto and Evans were back as Grimes turned things around for good with a subtle defensive adjustment. Burned by Ludden's early success in the transition game, Jamie Evans switched to matchup zone, which clogged up the middle and prevented Ludden's forwards from having space to maneuver.
Not only did this force the Gaelic Knights outside for shots that flew off target, it also gave the Cobras plenty of chances to grab boards. Both Sugamosto and Mike Stone finished with eight rebounds as sophomore Jon Carnegie contributed seven rebounds.
Of course, Stone is much better known for his offensive prowess, and this night was no exception. Whether it was aggressive drives to the basket or pull-up 3-point shots that found the net, Stone didn't let up until he had 18 points in the first half.
And when Stone wasn't converting, Sugamosto was dominating in the paint, shaking off his early collision with Casey Evans to register 10 points as, after that rough start, Grimes took a 30-23 lead to halftime.