Mar 04, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
No one would consider the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team’s 52-41 victory over Bishop Grimes in Sunday’s Section III Class B final at the Carrier Dome a pretty performance.
There were plenty of missed shots, missed free throws and other mistakes that, on typical occasions, would cause head coach Pat Donnelly to fret for days or weeks.
But the Gaelic Knights did not care one bit about how it looked. All that mattered was that, for the first time since 2001, it had claimed a sectional championship banner.
“I’m proud of our kids,” said Donnelly. “We’re young, but we are capable of doing great things.”
In this instance, the great work was done on the defensive end. Ludden’s pressure on the perimeter, and Grimes’ struggles to adjust to the Dome setting, led to the Cobras not making a single 3-pointer all afternoon.
“We shot very poorly,” said Grimes head coach Jamie Evans. “But that’s a credit to Ludden. They came out and played hard.”
Ludden’s challenge was twofold. Not only did it have to perform at a high level 11 days after it was last on the court (in the Class B semifinal win over Marcellus on Feb. 24), it also had to subdue Grimes for the third time this season, never an easy task.
This most important “Battle of the Bishops” (as depicted on a Grimes T-shirt made just for the occasion) began with Jon Carnegie, quiet in those first two contests, blocking Dan Kaigler’s shot and scoring the first basket on the other end. And that was one of just two field goals for the Cobras in the opening period.
For the most part, both teams were cold early, perhaps a combination of the long layoff and the nerves of a championship game. The Gaelic Knights did a slightly better job shaking out of it, and by the end of the first quarter it had scraped to a 10-4 lead.
As the pace picked up in the second period, Ludden stretched out the margin by getting offense from unexpected sources like freshman Zach Walser and senior reserve Nick Walker, each of whom had six points.
Carnegie’s seven points kept Grimes within reach, but he also picked up his third foul midway through the period. That forced the Cobras to go smaller and apply full-court pressure, which led to its first string of baskets.
Still, Ludden took a 27-19 lead to the break, and when the second half began just like the first, with tight defense and poor shooting on both ends, the odds of a Grimes comeback lengthened.
Then the Gaelic Knights’ sophomore stars returned to take control. Kaigler and Ben Hackett reeled off six consecutive points in the span of less than a minute, making it 36-23 late in the third quarter. Overall, Hackett had 13 points by the time they reached the final period, and Ludden held a comfortable 39-27 edge.
Any chance of Grimes catching up vanished when it went without a point for nearly four minutes in the fourth quarter, a combination of Ludden’s effective defense and, again, an inability to hit any shots, either from the field or at the foul line.
Kaigler picked up five points, all from free throws, in the final period, with Matt Rogers and Cameron Littlejohn also hitting foul shots in the homestretch to salt the title away.
Ludden will face Section IV champion Norwich Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Class B regional final at Binghamton High School, with the winner of that game advancing to the March 16-17 state final four at Glens Falls Civic Center.