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Ludden tops Norwich, advances to state final four

Sophomore duo again leads Gaelic Knights in 56-44 win

Ben Hackett got things started, Dan Kaigler took it from there - and because they did, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team is headed for Glens Falls and the state Class B final four.

The Gaelic Knights' superb pair of sophomores led the way as it beat Norwich 56-44 in Saturday's Class B regional final at Binghamton High School.

In many ways, this game resembled Ludden's 52-41 victory over Bishop Grimes in the Section III Class B title game at the Carrier Dome on March 4, in that the Gaelic Knights mostly relied on its defense to frustrate its opposition.

Neither side got much in the early going, but Ludden sneaked ahead, 13-10, by the end of the first quarter, and would lean on Hackett to keep that lead.

A force throughout the second half of the season and the playoffs, the 6-2 Hackett hurt Norwich with 10 first-half points. Since the rest of the Gaelic Knights were struggling, those points were more valuable, and Ludden went to the break with a 23-16 edge.

Then it was Kaigler's turn. Since Norwich relies so much on its guard trio of Kyle Edwards, Dennis Orrals and Seth Thomsen, the 6-5 sophomore was confident that he could dominate in the paint.

Yet it wasn't until the third quarter that Kaigler became an offensive force. Getting easy baskets inside and swarming the Purple Tornado any time it tried to go inside, Kaigler helped Ludden's grow to 38-27 by the end of the period, and as much as 16 in the final period.

Overall, Kaigler had 13 rebounds and six blocks to go with his 15 points, a perfect complement to Hackett, who finished with 16 points.

Given Zach Walser's foul trouble, others stepped up, as Nick Walker managed nine points, Cameron Littlejohn managed eight points and Matt Rogers got six points. Norwich, in defeat, did see Thomsen earn 13 points as Oralls and Edwards got 11 points apiece.

Next Friday night at 6:30 at Glens Falls Civic Center, Bishop Ludden, in its first state semifinal since 2001, will face Section VI champion Olean. The winner advances to next Saturday night's championship game against Burke Catholic or Watervliet, which tips off at 9 p.m.

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