Ludden boys hoops claims showdown with J-D

Gaelic Knights wait until final minutes to take charge

— Jamesville-DeWitt and Bishop Ludden, clashing for the third time since the Gaelic Knights moved up to Class A a season ago, offered a thrilling boys basketball battle Friday night with storylines aplenty, a heavyweight match-up between a Central New York Class A powerhouses both old and new.

There were the Gaelic Knights, currently sitting atop the state rankings, undefeated and looking to stay that way. In the other corner stood the Red Rams - humbled last season after a reign that culminated in three straight state championships- seeking to steal its first win in the budding rivalry, and on Ludden’s home court, no less.

Ultimately, it just didn't work out for the Rams, as the starting quintet of Dan Kaigler, Ben Hackett, Zach Walser, Jack Rauch and Kyle Hawk combined for all of the Gaelic Knights’ points in a 60-52 win over J-D.

It got off to a strange start. Absent from Ludden's starting lineup were both Hawk and Hackett as Ludden head coach Pat Donnelly trotted out Tim Rooney and Kevin Sierotnik in their stead.

Predictably, the Rams took advantage, leading 15-10 after one quarter. J-D held Kaigler scoreless in the first eight minutes, but struggled to contain Walser, who poured in 8 of his team's 10 points.

With the return of Hawk and Hackett in the second quarter, Ludden surged back, outscoring J-D 9-6 to go into halftime trailing by just two, 21-19. At this point, only Hackett, Rauch and Walser had scored for the Gaelic Knights, while J-D’s 21 points came from six different players, led by 7 points from forward James Jones.

Following the intermission, Ludden took back the lead for the first time since it was 10-9 on an emphatic breakaway dunk by Hackett that put them up 25-24.

J-D’s Dom DeRegis would answer. After scoring just two points in the first half, DeRegis put up 10 of J-D’s 18 third-quarter points by himself, keeping the Rams in the game as the Ludden juggernaut found its footing.

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