Jan 12, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As the theory goes, when the Bishop Ludden and Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball teams get together for their “Holy War” clashes, each side brings their best effort, leading to a memorable and hard-fought classic.
That didn’t exactly happen on Sunday afternoon at LeMoyne College. Short-handed, and completely out of rhythm, the Gaelic Knights didn’t even score in the first quarter and took a 49-27 loss to the Brothers, its eighth straight defeat in the series dating back to 2005.
The 27 points were, by far, the least amount of offense ever rendered by either side in the 46-year history of the Ludden-CBA rivalry, but its roots stemmed from the absence of one of the Gaelic Knights’ best players.
Frank Smith, Ludden’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder, broke team rules and was suspended earlier in the week. This was the third game Smith had missed, and his return remains uncertain.
This left the Gaelic Knights with a smaller lineup (Nick Familo started in Smith’s place) against CBA, who had put a big scare into defending state Class A champion Jamesville-DeWitt two nights earlier.
Right from the opening tip, Ludden found itself in trouble. Not only was the inside closed off, but every inch of court space got challenged as CBA’s man-to-man defense kept guard Rick Montgomery, John Rooney and Omar Osbourne from getting any kind of penetration.
As a result, the Gaelic Knights would not score at all in the first quarter, falling behind 16-0, only getting on the board when Rooney hit a jumper early in the second period.
Even with that, Ludden trailed 27-9 at the break and never really made CBA worry. Rooney had 13 points and Montgomery added eight points, but the rest of the team had just two total field goals.
CBA forwards Mike Goodman (14 points) and Greg Thomson (11 points) nearly matched the Gaelic Knights’ total by themselves, overwhelming Familo, Kevin Bullock and any other Ludden defender trying to contain them.
What preceded the CBA clash was a pair of OHSL Freedom division tests, each carrying their own degree of difficulty since Smith was out.
First, the Gaelic Knights visited Mexico last Tuesday night, and the game turned into a grinding affair where Ludden had to play strong defense to beat the Tigers 51-44.
Neither side made any kind of sustained run in the first half, leaving Ludden to cling to a 20-18 edge at the break. But it all turned in the third quarter, when the Gaelic Knights kept Mexico in check, outscoring them 14-5.
The defense allowed Ludden to feel its way through its first game without Smith to rely on. Montgomery stepped up for 19 points, eight of them from free throws, while Rooney earned 12 points. Osbourne (eight points) and Jared Littlejohn (six points) helped, too.
Back home Friday night, Ludden met Cortland, who was 6-5 but fuming after getting beat by 0-9 East Syracuse-Minoa earlier in the week.
Still, Ludden put together a gritty effort, rallying from a halftime deficit, then hanging on in the end to beat the Purple Tigers 48-44.
Through a low-scoring first half, neither side could produce much, but Cortland edged in front, 21-18, and made the home fans worry.
Ludden made perfect adjustments, though, and dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Purple Tigers 16-5, then fending off Cortland’s late charge.
It took great outside shooting. All of Rooney’s 15 points came from five successful 3-pointers, while Montgomery hit three times beyond the arc on his way to 19 points. This negated the work of Cortland’s Trevor Williamson, who led both sides with 21 points.
Much of this goodwill dissipated after the CBA defeat, but Ludden is still 8-3 going into Tuesday’s game at Chittenango and would be favored again Friday against Phoenix, whether Smith is back or not.
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