Jan 12, 2013 Kris Russell Uncategorized
Displaying the best and worst aspects of its own game, the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team earned another important victory.
The state no. 3-ranked Gaelic Knights nearly let a big lead slip away before holding off previously unbeaten Cortland, 57-51, Friday night in a highly-anticipated Class A showdown.
Though playing in front of a large and raucous home crowd, Ludden saw an 18-point second half advantage almost completely disappear. The Purple Tigers rallied and took two shots, one for the lead, and the other to tie with just under two minutes left.
But Ludden steadied itself and got big plays when it needed to in the dying moments to improve to 11-1 overall, and 8-0 in Class A play. Cortland, no. 13 in the state rankings, fell to 10-1.
Gaelic Knights coach Pat Donnelly said he’s seen it all before.
“That’s kind of our M.O,” Donnelly said. We’re good enough to get out to a big lead but we don’t sustain our intensity. We don’t finish the game.
“To Cortland’s credit they kept coming back,” Donnelly added. “But (Cortland) didn’t change anything. I think we broke down defensively and started getting very lackadaisical with the basketball, not finishing shots and we allowed them to make a run at us. That’s something we have to work on.”
Both teams started slowly. Ludden eventually took a 15-10 lead after one quarter, and the hosts’ advantage grew to nine, 29-20, by halftime.
Cameron Littlejohn opened the second half with a 3-point bomb, which fired up his team and the large Ludden student section. Within a minute, the lead was up to 15 points (35-20), and Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan was forced to use a timeout.
Whatever Milligan said didn’t immediately register. The Gaelic Knights kept the pressure on, running its advantage to 40-22 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
It was at this point that the game changed. Cortland closed the period on an 8-0 run, and opened the fourth quarter with a 16-7 spurt, so Ludden clung to a 47-46 lead with 3:19 left.
After Ludden made a free throw, Cortland came down and took its two cracks at the lead and tie. Both missed, and that was as close the Purple Tigers would get.
Dan Kaigler got loose on the baseline for a lay-up with 1:30 left to make it 50-46. After a pair of Cortland free throws, Littlejohn all but ended it with a fine pull up jumper in the paint with 53 seconds to play, yet another instance of the senior point guard delivering a big basket in the homestretch.
Cortland failed to score on the resulting possession, so the Tigers were forced to foul Kaigler, who officially iced it with a pair of charity tosses with 25 seconds remaining.
Kaigler led the winners with 16 points. Ben Hackett scored all 10 of his points in the second half. Antoine Montgomery came off the bench to score all eight of his points in the first half. Cory Paplawski had seven points, and Littlejohn finished with six points.
All of Cortland’s points came from four players, each of whom reached double figures. Isaiah Prior had 16 points, with Brian Hughes adding 14 points. Josh Gutchess managed 11 points and Zach Whelan contributed 10 points.
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