MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — A big early lead proved to be enough of a cushion for the Ludington boys basketball team as the Orioles held off a big rush at the end by Muskegon Heights and pulled out a thrilling 64-61 Lakes 8 Activities Conference win on the road Friday night.  

Defense was one of the keys for the Orioles in the first half, when they were able to build a 14-point lead, 37-23 at the end of the first 16 minutes of action.  

“I thought our half court defense was very solid tonight,” Ludington head coach Thad Shank said. “They turned us over a little bit down the stretch, and got us out of sync.  

“For two and a half quarters offensively, against a pretty solid pressure defense.

We struggled taking care of the ball down the stretch, but you have to give

Heights a lot of credit for that. They made a lot of great adjustments at halftime.  

“They took us out of some of the things we like to do in the second half. The other thing was Peyton LaCombe fouled out with seven minutes left in the game, and to be able to hold on and finish the game without him on the floor should give a lot of our kids some confidence.”  

Ludington outscored Heights, 17-13 in the first quarter, and seperated even more from the Tigers with a 20-10 third quarter for that 37-23 lead at the half.  

Heights came rushing back in the second half, outscoring the Orioles, 22-15 in the third quarter and shaving the Ludington lead to 52-45 going into the fourth period.

Heights outscored Ludington, 16-12 in the final eight minutes.  

David Shillinger had 18 points to lead the Orioles, while LaCombe finished with 12 and Aiden Gilchrist and Matthew Westhouse added 10 apiece.  

LaCombe grabbed 11 rebounds and Westhouse snared 10.  

The Tigers were led in scoring by JaKari Edwards with 18 points and William Davis chipped in with seven.  

Ludington improved its record to 6-4 overall and 5-0 in the Lakes 8 with its fourth win in a row. The Orioles are next scheduled to host Cadillac in a non-conference game Tuesday, January 25.  

Heights fell to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the league. The Tigers are next scheduled to play at North Muskegon on Monday, Jan. 24.