continued The Gaelic Knights built a six-point halftime lead on strong interior play from Kaigler and Hackett, who combined for 17 points before the break. Jack Rauch came off the bench to chip in seven points, including a 3-pointer.
Despite a furious start to the second half by the Gaelic Knights to open an 11-point lead, the Purple Tigers' defense closed down the lane for most of the third quarter. Ludden went scoreless for three minutes, and managed just 10 points in the period as Cortland cut the lead to two and set the stage for the late-game drama.
Walser and Rauch chipped in nine and seven points, respectively.
The Gaelic Knights face no. 4 seed New Hartford next Sunday in the Carrier Dome in the sectional final after the Spartans rallied past no. 1 seed Carthage 57-43 in the other semifinal.
“It feels great because a lot of people want to see us fail right now,” Kaigler said. “But we just come out here and work hard every day and we're able to make it back to the position we were in last year. It feels just as good as it did last year.”