Just 10 days after last seeing each other, the Jordan-Elbridge and Bishop Ludden girls basketball teams were reunited on the same court, this time with much higher stakes in Friday night's Section III Class B quarterfinals.
In front of another big and loud home crowd, the no. 3 seed Eagles did not disappoint, relying again on the effective tandem of senior guard Kali Davis and junior center Molly Hourigan to put together a 59-45 victory over the no. 11 seed Gaelic Knights.
The two sides had met Feb. 15, J-E prevailing 52-36, but Ludden had earned a return trip by eliminating no. 6 seed Sherburne-Earlville 65-56 in the first round of the sectional tournament.
Yet the Eagles, confident after its run to last year's Class B final, again stood out in the intense post-season spotlight. Following a closely-played first quarter, J-E began to take over in the second period, nearly doubling the Gaelic Knights' output in a 19-10 spurt that, by halftime, had created a 34-21 margin.
Ludden made its run in the third quarter as, led by Natalie Barletta (10 points) and Kayla Kibling (nine points), it pulled within 45-38, with lots of time to complete the comeback if it could just keep going. J-E's defense took over in the homestretch, though, limiting the Gaelic Knights to seven points in the final period.
All night long, Davis flourished, charging through Ludden's defenses and converting 10 field goals, adding free throws as she finished with 23 points, a new career mark. Hourigan provided her usual all-around brilliance, earning 13 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and five steals, while Amanda Wheeler threw in 10 points and Erin McLaughlin added six points.
J-E improved to 17-2 as the Gaelic Knights' season concluded at 8-12. And the Eagles will, as expected, face no. 2 seed Cazenovia in a highly-anticipated Class B semifinal Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Onondaga Community College, with the winner to get Westhill (who knocked out top seed South Jefferson) or Utica-Notre Dame in the finals Sunday at 1:45 at Utica Memorial Auditorium.