DeWitt They brought the boys basketball 'Holy War' between Bishop Ludden and Christian Brothers Academy back to Buddy Wleklinski Court on Sunday afternoon, but the offense was a late arrival.
In the latest fierce, intense edition of this half-century-old battle, the Gaelic Knights again came out on top, 50-35, completing a regular-season sweep of the Brothers.
For all the cheers that both teams would try to generate in the game, the most heartfelt ovation came just before tip-off, when Tom Dotterer walked to center court, took the microphone and thanked members of the CBA community for their love and support.
This came less than two weeks after Dotterer, the long-time CBA baseball coach, was shot in an attempted robbery at his Syracuse liquor store. At one point in critical condition at Upstate University Hospital, Dotterer has made a quick recovery and is working in his liquor store again.
Once the basketball started, CBA was out to get some payback for a 52-41 defeat to Ludden on Dec. 14, the first time the Gaelic Knights had won in this series since 2005.
Yet from the start, the Brothers' attack was stymied by a tight, relentless man-to-man defense from Ludden. Unable to make outside shots, CBA did not get a point for more than six minutes.
Despite this, Ludden could not get clear, bothered again by the Brothers' own physical pressure that forced turnovers and poor shots. So despite having just five field goals, CBA only trailed 19-12 at halftime.
All through the third period, the Gaelic Knights tried to get away, but could not, and the physical play escalated, to the point where Ludden's star junior, Ben Hackett, was frustrated enough to draw a technical foul.
As it turned out, that was a spark for the Gaelic Knights, especially Hackett, who scored his team's last basket in that period to make it 29-19 and promptly got the first six Ludden points of the fourth quarter, too.