January 15, 2014
Ludden pushed by Purple Tigers
No. 1 Gaelic Knights topple CHS 73-60
The reaction of the two head coaches after the Bishop Ludden boys’ basketball team’s 73-60 win over host Cortland High Tuesday night at Shafer Gym seemed a little skewed.
“I was very satisfied with our team’s effort throughout,’” Purple Tigers coach Jeremy Milligan said, his squad now 4-2 in OHSL Freedom National play — second behind 4-1 Jamesville-DeWitt — and 7-3 overall after falling to the top-ranked Class A team in the state and the defending sectional A champion.
“We’re still missing our starting point guard,” added Milligan, though senior Eamonn Mahar is due back from an injury soon. “Quinn Kennedy was coming off an illness and Zach Whelan was in foul trouble and had to sit significant minutes. The other players all stepped up and played well.”
“People who think I’m satisfied with this win are wrong,” said Gaelic Knights coach Pat Donnelly, who was visibly upset with his squad — now 6-0 atop the Freedom American Division and 9-0 overall — during the game and afterwards as well. “There’s no doubt we have a very talented, athletic team, and that’s been getting us by every night. When we were up by 18 points, 51-33 (in the third), we should have taken it to Cortland and put them away.
“To their credit, they were able to get back to within six before we were able to get back to what we can do,” he added, a basket by CHS senior guard Qadir Artis trimming Ludden’s lead to 51-45 in the fourth quarter. “But I think Cortland outplayed us. Jeremy has done a great job; they move the ball well, and I was very impressed with the way they played, considering all the players they lost from last season.”
That 2012-13 campaign ended for Cortland in a 54-51 loss to eventual champion Ludden in the sectional A semifinals. The Gaelic Knights, who won the state Class B championship two seasons ago, returned four starters from last winter to just two for Cortland.
“Our number one state ranking is based on what we did last year,” Donnelly said. “It really means nothing, and puts a bulls-eye on us for all of the teams we play.”
THE PURPLE TIGERS never led in the contest, but as noted never let up either. The visitors scored eight straight points to move from a 2-2 tie to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and led 24-13 after the first quarter. CHS got to within seven, at 28-21, on a drive inside by junior guard Sage Brown 2:25 into the second but could get no closer and trailed 39-28 at halftime.
Ludden’s biggest lead came at the juncture Donnelly noted, 51-33 with 3:44 left in the third. Cortland then scored the last 10 points of the stanza, including a pair of consecutive 3-pointers from senior guard Whelan bracketed by baskets from Brown and Kennedy, and trailed by just eight, 51-43, entering the fourth.
Artis drove inside to score 34 seconds into the fourth to make it a six-point game, 51-45, but Ludden then went on a 10-2 run, getting points from four different players, to make it 61-47 at the midway point of the quarter. The Purple Tigers never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“Our intent wasn’t just to stay close but, from the opening tip, to win,” Milligan said. “Our game plan was to invite them to shoot from the outside. Their strength offensively is betting the ball inside to their giants. Our plan was to play a sagging man-to-man to get them to shoot from outside the arc. That bit us a bit in the first quarter, when they made three of the four 3-pointers they had in the game.
“We also used some full-court pressure and a tempo press, three-quarters court, to slow things down a little, take some time off the shot clock and prevent them from getting it in to their bigs. We got some timely turnovers. They had 13 in the game to our nine. They only had five players score; unfortunately, all five were in double figures. They also did a good job on free throws, going 15-for-18 to our 7-for-17.”
JUNIOR FORWARD JACK Rauch — the lone Gaelic Knight starter on Tuesday who wasn’t on the floor at the beginning of last year’s sectional game — led that list with 20 points, while senior guard Ben Hackett, who hit a trio of 3-pointers, and 6-6 senior forward Daniel Kaigler had 15 each, senior guard Brian Hawk added 12 and 6-5 junior forward Zach Walser totaled 11.
“I thought we did a really good job of playing together as a team,.” said the 6-6 Rauch, who was forced to leave for a short time at the end of the first quarter after taking a hard fall on a drive to the basket but came back to start the second. “We didn’t get down on each other. We didn’t play very well offensively, but were able to use our size advantage down low, which is what we’re suited to do.”
Brown paced Cortland with 20 points, while sophomore guard Nick Craig, a varsity rookie, had a career-best 11 points, eight of those in the fourth quarter in place of Whelan, who fouled out with 3:11 left.
“Sage played well offensively and also did a great defensively holding Kaigler, an All-CNY player last year, to 15 points,” Milligan said. “Nick has been feeling more confident in his play, and we’ve encouraged him to shoot the ball more. That paid off tonight.”
Bishop Ludden used its height advantage and smart positioning to compile a 35-22 rebounding advantage, led by Walser with 10 and Rauch with eight. The Purple Tigers got five rebounds from Brown and four from Whelan. Brown also had four assists for CHS, while senior forward Teddy Phillips had five. Hackett had a game-high seven assists for the winners.
Both coaches had thoughts on how Tuesday’s game might affect a possible sectional meeting between the two teams.
“This game gave Cortland confidence for sectionals,” Donnelly said. “They’re not afraid of us, and they know they can play with us.”
“This game was a valuable experience,” Milligan said. “If we’re fortunate enough to have a shot at them again, we could be able to be on the other side of the final score.”
CORTLAND JVs moved from a 34-34 tie after three quarters with a 16-8 fourth-quarter advantage to win 50-42 and improve to 5-1 league and 9-2 overall. Sophomore guard Kersean Perry led the way with 16 points, while freshman guard Bryshawn Lewis added 13. Sophomore Matt McGinn’s 16 points paced Ludden.
Next up for Cortland’s teams are games with CBA on the road Friday night, the JVs getting things started at 5:30 p.m.
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