Mar 04, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Much as the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team has received from Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett in its two-year championship run, there’s more talent on hand.
And it was the Gaelic Knights’ less-heralded supporting cast that helped deliver a Section III Class A title Sunday night at the Carrier Dome, producing at key moments to defeat New Hartford 57-44.
At different points during the games, the likes of Jack Rauch, Kyle Hawk, Zach Walser and Cameron Littlejohn took advantage of the attention given to Kaigler and Hackett to produce key baskets, keeping New Hartford at bay in the process.
“That’s what we’ve worked for all year, to have five or six guys contributing,” said Ludden head coach Pat Donnelly.
As it started, the Gaelic Knights were concerned with two parts of New Hartford’s attack – its ability to sink lots of 3-point shots and, when those shots didn’t fall, crashing the boards to get second and third looks.
Ludden didn’t take long in making New Hartford uncomfortable, claiming the opening tip and watching Dan Kaigler drive to the basket with a slam dunk, followed by baskets from Ben Hackett and Zach Walser that made it 8-0 and forced a quick Spartan time-out.
It took three-plus minutes for New Hartford to score, on back-to-back Jared Henderson 3-pointers, but by making a few of those deep shots, it was able to climb back in it, and Nate Donaldson’s shot at the horn tied it, 12-12.
With Kaigler and Hackett held to four points apiece in the first half, Ludden fell back on its defense, blanking New Hartford again for the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter, but only getting a pair of baskets as it failed to take advantage.
As such, when James Franco capped a brief Spartan answer with a 3-pointer, Ludden trailed for the first time, 19-16. The game settled into a tense, low-scoring duel, both sides reluctant to give up anything, but Ludden was able to climb back in front by a 22-21 margin going to the break.
New Hartford would go cold at the start of the second half, unable to make any kind of shot, inside or outside, for more than three minutes. Donnelly said his team stopped watching rebounds and started to shore up its work on the glass, denying the Spartans second and third opportunities.
As this went on, Ludden spread around baskets, outscoring the Spartans 16-6 in the third quarter. It got four points apiece from Hawk and Rauch, and capped it with a fast break capped off by Kaigler’s second powerful dunk of the night.
The Gaelic Knights carried a 38-27 edge to the final quarter, but the Spartans tried to rally as the Henderson brothers both made 3-pointers to cut the margin to seven, 42-35, with more than five minutes left.
Once more, Ludden would have a timely answer, and it came from Hackett. Held to two field goals so far, he delivered a trio of baskets in the fourth quarter, augmented by five more points from Hawk, that made it 49-35 and put it out of the Spartans’ reach.
Hackett, named the tournament MVP, had 10 of his 14 points in that final period, while Hawk picked up 12 points. Kaigler had nine points as Littlejohn gained eight points, Walser seven points and Rauch six points. New Hartford’s Mark Chanatry led both sides with 16 points.
Ludden will return to Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena this Saturday night to face the Section II/X survivor (Scotia-Glenville or Massena) in the Class A regional final at 8:15.
One more win brings the Gaelic Knights back to the state final four in Glens Falls, where Donnelly will be inducted into the New York State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame – and just might work from the bench, too.