High levels of excitement, for varying reasons, surrounded the Bishop Ludden basketball team’s encounters with Skaneateles on Tuesday night.
For the boys Gaelic Knights, it was simply the matter of getting into a close, tense affair with the visiting Lakers that wasn’t resolved until the buzzer as Ludden pulled out a 55-53 win.
Meanwhile, at Skaneateles, the girls Gaelic Knights ran into a familiar face on the other sideline and handled it with cool precision, riding Kayla Kibling’s hot shooting past the Lakers 54-42.
From a timing standpoint, the Skaneateles boys were in a good spot, refreshed from a week-long break, while Ludden was coming off a big 63-53 win at Bishop Grimes on Jan. 6 that required an all-out effort.
Sure enough, the Lakers played a superb first half as, led by Brandon Barron’s hot shooting and an effective defense, it steadily built a 28-21 advantage.
But Ludden (7-2) turned it around in the third quarter, leaning on the sophomore duo of Ben Hackett and Dan Kaigler to zoom into a 42-39 lead. Hackett would finish with 20 points, while Kaigler put up 15 points.
All through the final period, it went back and forth. Ludden clung to a 52-50 lead when, with 30 seconds left, Barron drained a 3-pointer to put Skaneateles back in front. It gave Barron 24 points for the night.
Keeping cool, Ludden, trailing by one, worked it inside to Kaigler, whose basket with 11 seconds to play put the Gaelic Knights back in front. Then the hosts got lucky, as the Lakers were unable to convert an open close-up shot in the waning seconds.
Fouled with 1.7 seconds left, Nick Walker made the first free throw, and by missing the second, he gave the Lakers time to do nothing else but attempt a desperation shot that fell off target at the buzzer.