A fourth-quarter explosion gives Ludington a regional title, berth in state quarterfinals

LocalSportsJournal.com

The Ludington boys’ basketball team is back in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.

The Orioles led Gladstone by three points after three quarters on Wednesday, then pulled away in the fourth to claim a 63-48 victory and a Class B regional championship at Grayling High School.

Ludington, now 23-2, advanced to Tuesday’s Class B state quarterfinals against Lake Fenton at Bay City Central High School at 7 p.m.

Ludington previously won regional titles in 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2009, but lost in the quarterfinals each time. The current Orioles would like to be the team that gets over that hurdle, according to Coach Thad Shank.

“This group of players had a lot of siblings that were a part of the last regional championship teams,” said Shank, whose team set a new school record for single-season victories with the win.

“A lot of these kids were six, seven or eight-years-old during that time. They’ve been really focused on re-establishing the tradition of Ludington basketball. It’s been a pretty special deal for us.”

The game was tied 12-12 after one quarter, and the Orioles led 25-22 at halftime and 36-33 after three.

Ludington bagged the victory and the championship by exploding for 27 points in the fourth quarter and outscoring Gladstone by 12. Calvin Hackert opened the final quarter for Ludington with a 3-pointer, while Josh Laman and Josiah Bandstra each scored six points down the stretch.

The Orioles helped their cause by hitting 10 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter and 15 of 23 in the game. Sam LaDuke led Ludington from the line by nailing 9 of 13 free-throw attempts.

“It was a battle for three quarters,” Shank said. “Part of our success is we have good depth. Our first five match up pretty well, but we went deeper into the bench and we wore Gladstone down a little bit.”

Five players scored in double-figures for Ludington. Hackert led the way with 15 points, including 13 in the second half. LaDuke added 13 points, Josh Laman had 12, while Bandstra and Noah Laman scored 10 points apiece.

“I don’t remember a night where we have had five guys in double figures,” Shank said.

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