SYRACUSE 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.