continued “We talked about it since the beginning of November, that we're going to need one stop to end the game,” Kaigler said. “He got a step on me for a minute, but I knew I had the length to block his shot and I was able to contest it and get a piece of it.”
Zach Walser grabbed the loose ball and Cortland immediately fouled, sending Walser to the line. Walser hit the first, but missed the second.
But Kaigler got a good release off the line and skied for the offensive rebound. He was also sent to the line, where he hit the second of two to put the Gaelic Knights up by three with eight seconds left.
Knowing that only a 3-pointer would do for the Purple Tigers, Ludden crowded the perimeter for the final possession, and Kaigler got a piece of Zach Whelan’s corner three as the buzzer went off.
“We knew that number 11 [Whelan] was their shooter,” Kaigler said. “I seen him come off the screen so I knew I needed to hedge. He put it low enough for me to get a piece of it and I was able to get a piece and that ended the game.”
The Gaelic Knights entered this semifinal contest with caution, having narrowly beaten Cortland 57-51 earlier in the season.
“The first game we really had control over most of the game,” Donnelly said. "But then they stormed back and had a chance to take the lead, and they missed a layup to tie the game at Ludden. I think when they battled back and saw they could play with us, it changed their outlook on facing us again.”
Donnelly pointed to his team’s championship experience as a key factor.
“With the experience we have in big games last year, I never really saw panic in our eyes," he said. "I saw mad. That's what I wanted, I want us to be upset in that situation.”