Compelling boys basketball stories were found in two different locales Friday night – one having to do with a milestone, the other a big showdown atop the OHSL Liberty National division.
Christian Brothers Academy’s 54-21 win at Chittenango gave its long-time head coach, Buddy Wleklinski, 400 victories for his career, all at the school that is his alma mater (he graduated in 1977) and where he also serves as athletic director.
As this went on, Bishop Grimes, in the first of two highly-anticipated clashes with Bishop Ludden, lost at home to the Gaelic Knights 63-53, the visitors helped by an unlikely hero.
Since taking over as head coach in 1984, Wleklinski has won more than 65 percent of his games at CBA and has seen his teams earn a state Class C championship in 1997, six Section III titles in various classes, the most recent in 2009, when the Brothers advanced to the state Class AA final four.
In its first attempt to get that 400th win for Wleklinski on Dec. 30, CBA had lost the final of its annual Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic to St. Joseph’s (Buffalo) 69-64. But Chittenango would not offer the same sort of obstacle.
With family, friends and several former CBA players in attendance, the Brothers started to pull away by outscoring Chittenango 11-4 in the second quarter. Jack Pfohl and Aaron Morgan led the offense with 11 points apiece, while Dylan Haines added seven points.
Far more drama could be found in East Syracuse, where Bishop Grimes, who had gone 0-2 in that same holiday tournament at CBA following a 6-0 start, met Bishop Ludden with first place in the Liberty National division at stake.
Gradually, the Gaelic Knights moved out in front in the game’s middle stages, its defense shutting down Cobras forward Jon Carnegie, holding him to a single field goal.