SYRACUSE Seeing a 3-point shot fall early in the game is nice. Seeing a flurry of them go through the net can prove quite disheartening to an opponent - especially when the guys taking the shots are not known for outside proficiency.
That's what the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team did to Jamesville-DeWitt in Saturday's Section III Class A final at the Carrier Dome, Kyle Hawk and Ben Hackett unleashing an outside barrage that no one anticipated and riding it all the way to an impressive 76-49 victory over Jamesville-DeWitt for its third consecutive sectional championship.
"We felt pressure all year long to repeat," said Ludden head coach Pat Donnelly. "To do so is a great relief."
The Gaelic Knights had every reason to respect J-D, not just for its legacy of six state championships, but also because the Red Rams had pushed Ludden hard in a 62-53 victory back on Jan. 10.
J-D had not lost a game since, relying on a deep lineup and a fast tempo to wear down opponents. The thought going into this game was that the Rams would try to do the same in the face of Ludden's big frontcourt.
But Hackett said that, in the week leading up to the game, Donnelly and the coaches emphasized the importance of hitting outside shots to counter any J-D attempt to pack it in and double-team Ludden's forwards, especially Dan Kaigler.
That plan worked in a way that even the Gaelic Knights, even in its most optimistic projections, could not have imagined.
Ludden went through every conceivable emotion during a wild first half, from the ecstasy of seeing Hawk and Hackett hit seven 3-pointers in the first quarter to seeing its junior forward, Jack Rauch, go down with an ankle injury late in the second quarter.
With J-D laying back in a zone, Hawk and Hackett kept getting wide-open looks, and kept converting, more than doubling Ludden's average of 3-point conversions in just the first six minutes. All of that created a 26-13 lead - without Kaigler earning a single point.