"We knew CBA was going to play us hard," said Donnelly. "These games are never pretty."
The Brothers' intense, physical defense took a toll, though, as it caused a series of first-half fouls. Ludden went to the line 19 times and made 16 free throws, the first 15 of them in a row, and gained a 27-22 edge going to the break.
It looked even better for the Gaelic Knights in the third quarter when it stretched the margin to 33-24 and CBA's center, Dylan Lambert, fouled out. But the Brothers countered with a 9-0 run, capped by Will Brower's basket, that tied it, 33-33.
From that point, and deep into the fourth quarter, every possession turned into a struggle. Ludden could not get away, but the Brothers couldn't catch up, either, twice more tying it, 39-39 and 41-41, but missing chances to pull out in front.
Then the Gaelic Knights' Ben Hackett, quiet for most of the night, used two free throws with 3:19 left to move Ludden ahead for good. Hackett had five of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, while Kaigler finished with 14 points.
A second CBA starter, Charlie Russo, fouled out with 2:21 to play. Still, the Brothers were within a single possession until Cameron Littlejohn, with the shot clock running out, hit a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim twice before dropping through with 1:05 left. It was similar to the shot he hit to clinch Ludden's win over Fayetteville-Manlius a week earlier.
Brower paced CBA with 10 points, while Jack Pfohl added nine points. Kyle Hawk contributed eight points for the Gaelic Knights, who will go to the Albany area next Saturday to face Watervliet (Section II) in a rematch of last March's state Class B final.