Mar 10, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As part of the state boys basketball championships this weekend at Glens Falls, Bishop Ludden boys basketball head coach Pat Donnelly will get inducted into the New York State Coaches Hall of Fame.
By the way, Donnelly will be working, too.
The Gaelic Knights are back in the state final four, this time at the Class A level, after defeating Scotia-Glenville 58-53 in Saturday night’s regional final at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena.
“It will be great to have the team down there,” said Donnelly, looking ahead to both the festivities and a chance at back-to-back state titles to go with the Class B state crown earned in 2012. “We’re going to savor this one.”
Aside from wanting to make Donnelly‘s Hall of Fame weekend more special, Ludden was trying to stop a Scotia-Glenville side carrying a perfect 22-0 record into the regional finals, the Tartans having made its name by pushing the tempo as much as possible.
Immediately, the contrast in styles was evident – the Gaelic Knights comfortable in a half-court set, S-G intent on running at every opportunity. Twice off made Ludden baskets in the first quarter, the Tartans sped up the court and answered within seconds.
Defensively, S-G surrounded Dan Kaigler in the paint, but he still managed six points in the first quarter, aided by a pair of 3-pointers from Cameron Littlejohn as they played to a 16-16 draw.
They remained tight through the rest of the half, through five ties and six lead changes. Ludden, helped by six second-quarter points from Ben Hackett, inched in front 30-27 by halftime.
S-G’s sophomore sensation, Joe Cremo, had 11 first-half points. But though he added two more baskets early in the second half, he and his S-G teammates could not get the same kind of fast-break chances, Ludden abandoning its full-court pressure to go a half-court set.
“We stopped pressing and got back quickly,” said Donnelly. “That took one of their weapons away.”
The defense allowed Ludden to move in front for good as Hackett continued to weave his way through the Tartan defense, either converting baskets or drawing contact as he had nine of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter.
“Coach told us to be aggressive,” said Hackett. “We pushed the ball, and I attacked the seams.”
Donnelly said that Hackett’s potential is limitless if he could give a full effort every night.
“We’ve got to get Ben going for 32 minutes,” he said. “When he does, he’s at a different level.”
Despite Kaigler’s three fouls and long spell on the bench, the Gaelic Knights took a 45-38 lead to the fourth quarter. When Kaigler quickly got a fourth foul and, again, had to sit, S-G pounced, pulling within 45-44 with six minutes left.
After an exchange of baskets, Ludden again showed its championship mettle as Hackett and Kaigler both hit key baskets to stretch the lead back to six, 53-47, only to see Dom LeMorta drain a 3-pointer to cut the margin back to three with 2:40 left.
The Tartans would get no closer, though, as other outside shots just would not fall in the homestretch, which allowed the Gaelic Knights to endure a string of missed free throws and still prevail.
Kaigler, through all the defensive attention and limited minutes, still gained 14 points. Littlejohn had 10 of his 11 points in the first half. Crapo led the Tartans, matching Hackett’s total of 19 points.
On Saturday at 10:45 a.m. at Glens Falls Civic Center, Ludden plays Buffalo McKinley (Section VI) in the Class A state semifinal. A win would get the Gaelic Knights to Sunday’s 1:30 title game against Burke Catholic or Amityville.
Donnelly, whose induction ceremony next Sunday (on St. Patrick’s Day, of all things) precedes the state final, said that playing in the morning will not be easy, but added that the team’s experience in state tournament play will help.