Ludden stops New Hartford, wins Class A crown

Gaelic Knights depend on entire lineup in 57-44 win

— Much as the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team has received from Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett in its two-year championship run, there’s more talent on hand.

And it was the Gaelic Knights’ less-heralded supporting cast that helped deliver a Section III Class A title Sunday night at the Carrier Dome, producing at key moments to defeat New Hartford 57-44.

At different points during the games, the likes of Jack Rauch, Kyle Hawk, Zach Walser and Cameron Littlejohn took advantage of the attention given to Kaigler and Hackett to produce key baskets, keeping New Hartford at bay in the process.

“That’s what we’ve worked for all year, to have five or six guys contributing,” said Ludden head coach Pat Donnelly.

As it started, the Gaelic Knights were concerned with two parts of New Hartford’s attack - its ability to sink lots of 3-point shots and, when those shots didn’t fall, crashing the boards to get second and third looks.

Ludden didn’t take long in making New Hartford uncomfortable, claiming the opening tip and watching Dan Kaigler drive to the basket with a slam dunk, followed by baskets from Ben Hackett and Zach Walser that made it 8-0 and forced a quick Spartan time-out.

It took three-plus minutes for New Hartford to score, on back-to-back Jared Henderson 3-pointers, but by making a few of those deep shots, it was able to climb back in it, and Nate Donaldson’s shot at the horn tied it, 12-12.

With Kaigler and Hackett held to four points apiece in the first half, Ludden fell back on its defense, blanking New Hartford again for the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter, but only getting a pair of baskets as it failed to take advantage.

As such, when James Franco capped a brief Spartan answer with a 3-pointer, Ludden trailed for the first time, 19-16. The game settled into a tense, low-scoring duel, both sides reluctant to give up anything, but Ludden was able to climb back in front by a 22-21 margin going to the break.

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