By Nate Thompson
The Orioles’ 5-foot-8 guard got hot in the clutch, sinking four three-pointers in the fourth quarter and finishing with a game-high 19 points, helping the Orioles erase a late seven-point deficit and beat Muskegon Catholic 47-41 in Lakes 8 Conference action.
The victory improves Ludington’s season record to 6-1. The Orioles remain undefeated in the Lakes 8 with a 4-0 mark.
The Crusaders, who played the same starting five for all but a few seconds of the game, fell to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in league play.
Porter said the Orioles needed some kind of boost at the half. Due in part to MCC’s physical 2-3 zone defense, Ludington failed to connect on 3-pointers throughout the first two quarters, but still held tight leads of 6-5 after one quarter and 18-16 at the half.
“That was probably our worst shooting half that we’ve had this season,” Porter said. “After we went into the locker room and Coach Shank got our pep talk going, that got into us and it changed our mind.”
A flurry of Ludington turnovers, and strong play in the post from MCC sophomore center Jordan Porter, helped the Crusaders take a 29-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
MCC then scored the opening five points of the final quarter to build its biggest lead, 34-27.
With tremendous footwork and quickness darting across the lane, Porter was a force for the Crusaders all night. He tallied a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Andre Watson III added 13 for MCC.
But just when the Orioles seemed doomed, their shooting exploded.
Junior forward Joshua Laman, the team’s leading scorer, started the outburst midway through the fourth with a corner triple, then Brayden Porter got very hot, connecting on four triples in a three-minute span.
His final 3-pointer gave Ludington a 44-37 lead with under a minute to play.
“After I get one (three-pointer), I feel like I can get a run of them going,” Porter said. “It’s a confidence builder.”
“Brayden made some huge, huge shots,” said Ludington head coach Thad Shank. “He’s our best perimeter shooter and he got loose in that fourth quarter. The moment was definitely not too big for him tonight.”
MCC coach Lamar Jordan commended his squad, which played without senior Peter Bartolameolli, who was injured, and sophomore Cameron Martinez, who was held out of the contest due to a pending transfer to Muskegon HIgh School.
“The difference in the game was with about four minutes left, we had four turnovers and about four possessions where we didn’t get a good shot,” Jordan said. “That, and we lost track of (Porter). We decided coming in that we didn’t want Laman to beat us, but then we give up 19 to Porter. So you kind of have to live and die by that decision.”
Laman managed 11 points for Ludington, despite facing double teams down low throughout the contest.