LUDINGTON — With two starters out with illness, and another injured, the Ludington boys basketball team had other players step up and play big roles in the Orioles’ 47-38 victory over Catholic Central to clinch the Lakes 8 Activities Conference title outright Friday night.

With only one conference game left on the regular season schedule, the Orioles are 9-0 in the conference.

Muskegon Heights is Ludington’s closest challenger in the Lakes 8 and the Tigers are 7-2.

Kol Anthes gave the Orioles a spark in the second half, knocking down three 3-point shots and scoring all of his 11 points in the final two quarters.

“I think a lot of it was we really played together on the offensive end,” Orioles head coach Thad Shank said. “We got good shots tonight, and when you get good shots, you get to set up your defense.

“I thought the kids were pretty on top of things, and switched defenses very well tonight as well. Kol sparked us. We created some turnovers in the second half with our full-court defense.

“Kol knocked down some big open looks for us to create a little gap from a close game. Dylan Eaton and Gage Jones were solid taking care of the ball all night.”

The Orioles struggled early, getting off to a slow start and found themselves behind, 11-5 at the end of the first quarter. But, they soon recovered and outscored the Crusaders, 14-10 in the second to trim the deficit to 21-19 at the half as Levi Laman scored 10 of his 11 points in the first two quarters to keep the Orioles in the game.

Ludington’s full-court defense rattled the Crusaders in the second half, leading to several turnovers and the Orioles cashed in on a good percentage of those opportunities to start pulling away.

Holding the Crusaders down on defense and catching fire behind Anthes long distance shooting, the Orioles climbed over the top with a 14-7 third quarter and a seven-point lead, 33-26 heading into the fourth period. Ludington finished the game with a 14-10 run in the final stanza.

“One of your goals is to be a conference champion, and we just had a lot of kids step up tonight,” said Shank. “Our two leading scorers did not play.

“It’s nice to put some of your guys in different roles than they experience. Getting that experience, and being able to be counted on to handle the pressure, and understand how you have to play offense to create good shots is all good stuff.”

Eaton led the Orioles in scoring for the night with 12 points.

Jaden Johnson led all scorers in the game with 20 points for the Crusaders.

Ludington improved to 10-6 overall with its second straight win. The Orioles are next scheduled to hit the floor Wednesday, Feb. 23 for a non-conference game at Whitehall.

Catholic Central saw its record drop to 4-11 overall and 3-6 in the conference. The Crusaders are next scheduled to see action on Tuesday, Feb. 22 hosting Byron Center.