By Nate Thompson
LUDINGTON – It will go down as one of the most memorable buckets in the history of the Ludington boy’s basketball program.
Laman, the Orioles’ 6-foot, 5-inch power forward, said his corner three-pointer at the buzzer in last season’s Class B state semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center – a shot that gave Ludington a stunning 51-50 victory over River Rouge – is still talked about every-so-often throughout the school.
The miraculous buzzer-beater was Laman’s first three-pointer of the season, with the assist being credited to his older brother, Noah Laman.
Asked if he’ll always be remembered as the kid who sent Orioles’ players, coaches and fans into pandemonium with the clutch shot, Laman said he “hopes not.”
“I hope I’m able to make a statement as a player here and accomplish a lot more throughout my career, and not just be remembered for one shot,” he said. “I mean, it’s fun to think about, and we bring it up quite a bit at practice. We actually joke about it now. But it’s still a good memory.”
This season it’s become very apparent that Laman is definitely not a one-shot-wonder.
As a junior this season, Laman has helped the Orioles remain dangerous on the court, despite the team suffering huge losses to graduation, and injuries to several athletes who were expected to contribute.
Ludington entered this season having to replace 4 of 5 starters, but the Orioles are currently 11-5 overall and are on top of the Lakes 8 Conference with a 8-1 mark.
Ludington hasn’t fallen off the map partly because Laman has gone from being a role player a year ago to an inside-outside offensive force this season. He’s currently averaging 15.5 points and close to eight rebounds per game.
“He’s shown this year that shot (in the semifinals) was not a miracle shot,” said Ludington Coach Thad Shank. “As a first-year varsity player last year, we didn’t ask him to shoot a lot from the outside. But he’s really worked on his shooting. Now, he’s our best three-point shooter. He’s hitting about 50 percent of his shots out there.”
Shank said Laman is quickly becoming one of the best all-around offensive players he’s ever coached, which says a lot considering Shank has roamed the sidelines at Ludington for 19 seasons.
“Not many kids are more committed to working on their game and getting better than Josh has been,” Shank said. “He can play with his back to the basket and score in the post, he can beat defenders off the dribble, and he can step out and knock down perimeter shots. I haven’t been around too many kids who are that skilled in so many areas.”
Laman has been a model of consistency, scoring in double figures in all but three of the Orioles’ contests this season. He said he credits his development, especially at a younger age, to his older brother Noah, who is currently on the JV team at Bethel College, an NAIA program in Mishawaka, Ind.
“Noah and that senior class, they played a lot of AAU together and they always included me with them,” Laman said. “They’d let me practice with them during the summer and I’d go to workouts with them and Coach Shank.
“My brother just showed me how much hard work it takes,” he added. “Whether it’s in the weight room, or working on his game on the court. He helped push me to become my own player. Someone who can shoot threes and also play in the post.”
Matching last season’s stunning run to the state championship game will be hard to duplicate, but Laman is intent on being a leader to the fresh faces on the varsity roster, and making the Orioles a tough team to beat in the upcoming Class B state tournament.
“It comes down to being focused and prepared,” Laman said. “They’ve witnessed (last season), so they have a good understanding of what it takes. It’s a lot of tough practices. But I try to tell them what to expect. Do this, and this is what will happen.”