One perk of Bishop Ludden winning the boys basketball Class B New York State Public High School Association championship was that it got one more weekend of action on the court.
The Gaelic Knights took full advantage, going to Albany's Times Union Center last weekend and making it to the championship round of the Federation tournament.
It began with Friday night’s semifinal, where, led by sophomore Ben Hackett, Ludden beat Nazareth 66-59 in the Federation tournament semifinals.
Hackett, the MVP of the state final four in Glens Falls a weekend ago, managed to improve on this day, pouring in 26 points, including four 3-pointers, as Ludden led from start to finish.
Nazareth, the Catholic High School Athletic Association representative from New York City, was in immediate trouble. Ludden went on a 9-0 run in the first quarter, Hackett pulling off steals on three consecutive possessions that led to seven points on the other end.
Up 20-9 after one period, the Gaelic Knights saw Nazareth cut the margin to 22-17 in the second quarter, but sophomore Dan Kaigler's inside work (he had 12 of his 14 points in the first half) restored the cushion, and with Kaigler's big dunk over two Nazareth defenders in the waning seconds, Ludden went to the break with a 32-21 edge.
Opening the second half strong, the Gaelic Knights built a 19-point (44-25) lead, only to relax and have Nazareth reel off 11 unanswered points late in the third quarter.
Once more, though, Ludden would pull away. Hackett added to his total, while Kaigler accumulated six rebounds and seven blocks. And when Nazareth tried to shut the sophomores down, Cameron Littlejohn would hit timely shots, as he finished with 13 points, mostly from four 3-pointers.
Now Ludden faced Collegiate, also from New York City, in Saturday's Federation final. Collegiate beat Public School Athletic Association champion Pathways 64-54 in the other semifinal and was in pursuit of a fifth consecutive Federation crown.