Everything in the OHSL Liberty National division will hinge on next Tuesday night’s boys basketball showdown between Bishop Ludden and Bishop Grimes.
Having already won the first meeting 63-53 at East Syracuse on Jan. 6, the Gaelic Knights will enter the rematch well-rested (a week off, to be exact) and in prime form following wins on back-to-back nights at the end of January.
First, the Gaelic Knights ventured north, to Watertown, and though it witnessed a bit of history on the other side, it still beat the Cyclones 61-42.
An active first quarter saw Ludden only lead 18-16 because Watertown star Dustin Pond was tough to stop. Pond scored the Cyclones’ first eight points, and when he got another basket late in the period, he surpassed Eddie Adams (who played from 1987 to ’90) and became Watertown’s all-time leading scorer.
From there, though, Ludden’s defense took over, shutting down the hosts as the Gaelic Knights outscored the Cyclones a combined 35-10 in the second and third periods.
Ben Hackett led that charge, and finished with 18 points, two more than Pond. Dan Kaigler, with 13 points, and Zach Walser, with 11 points, also reached double figures, and all 10 Ludden players that saw action got at least one points.
Just 24 hours later, the Gaelic Knights hosted Marcellus, who still harbored playoff hopes and were far improved (and healthier) than the side Ludden had crushed 80-34 back on Dec. 13.
Yet it didn’t matter how much better the Mustangs were, because the Gaelic Knights outclassed them again, this time by a score of a 75-48.
The start had a lot to do with it, as Ludden doubled up Marcellus 22-11 in the first quarter. The margin kept growing, to 39-21 by halftime, and the Mustangs never could muster the sustained outburst needed to make up that big gap.