By Greg Gielczyk
EAST LANSING — Ludington knew what it was facing in the No. 1 ranked team in the state, but still had confidence that it could pull the upset.
For a brief moment, it appeared that just might happen when the Orioles climbed out of a 13-0 hole to get within one point of Detroit Edison, 17-16 with six minutes left in the second quarter.
But, the Pioneers sped away from the Orioles from there en route to a 63-30 win in a MHSAA Division 2 state semifinal at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.
“When it was 13-0, it could have went south,” said Ludington head coach Warren Stowe. “But, we battled back and got it to within one.
“It was pretty cool for us to battle back against a team of that caliber. They’re relentless. They did to us what we try to do to a lot of teams all year long on the West side of the state, and that’s in your face defense and never let you breathe.
“And, it wears on you. The second half it was just too much, coupled with we had trouble keeping them out of the lane, or from getting second chance opportunities.”
Edison capitalized on some Oriole turnovers to kick off its quick tempo, and raced out to a 13-0 lead at the 4:11 mark of the first quarter.
But, the Orioles recovered from that early onslaught by the Pioneers, and scrambled back, with Annie Kline’s big 3-point bucket cutting the deficit to six, 15-9 before the Pioneers took a 17-9 lead at the horn.
The Orioles had seized the momentum, however, and went on a 7-0 tear to close the gap to just one, 17-16 just two minutes into the second period.
Ludington senior RyAnn Rohrer scored four of those seven points, on a nifty spin move down low for a layup and then putting back an offensive rebound.
Edison didn’t buckle, though, and came right back, outscoring the Orioles, 15-3 over the remainder of the second to go into the half with a 32-19 lead.
The Orioles were outscored, 17-4 in the third and trailed, 49-23 going into the fourth quarter.
“It’s just their ball pressure is so immense that it’s hard to get into anything,” Stowe said. “I don’t know that we had more than a handful of sets tonight.
“Scores off of their pressure, that happened. But, actually to get it past half-court, get into an offensive set … those were almost non-existent because of the amount of pressure they put on the ball.”
Rohrer led the Orioles with 15 points, while Keelyn Laird scored seven, Annie Kline had three and Karli Mesyar netted a free throw.
Off the bench, Emma McKinley and Olivia Lynn scored two apiece.
This year’s McDonald’s Press Miss Basketball Ruby Whitehorn (the team’s fourth straight girl to earn the honor), fired in 18 points to lead all scorers for the Pioneers, on 8 of 14 shooting from the field, and she also had 12 rebounds.
Madisen Wardell added 10 while Nekaya Bonner scored eight.
Whitehorn is headed to Clemson.
It snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Orioles, and finished their season 20-6.
“This one game does not define who we are,” said Stowe. “Those 14 girls had a historic run. They’re go down as one of the greatest teams to ever play Ludington basketball.
“It’s just really nice as a coach to have such a great group. I love being around them. Tomorrow it’s going to be okay, but Monday after school it’s going to be a little tough to not have them in the gym and joking around.
“Definitely going to miss them. We’ll just have to get back to work. They’ve got a lot to live up to with the seniors that we had, in terms of their play.”
Edison takes an 11-game winning streak and an 18-3 record into Saturday’s state championship game against Grand Rapids West Catholic (25-1) at 6:15 p.m.