By Greg Gielczyk
Cadillac held off the Orioles for a 51-48 victory Friday night in a MHSAA Division 2 district championship game at Manistee.
The Orioles trailed the Vikings, 43-33 with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter, and then came storming back to pull into a 48-48 tie on a layup and two free throws by Peyton LaCombe, who was a game time decision after suffering an injury in a win over Big Rapids on Wednesday night.
But, those were the last points Ludington would score while the Vikings escaped.
Ludington hadn’t lost a district final since 2017.
“It was a heck of a high school game,” Ludington coach Thad Shank said. “Two teams that were competing at a high level, and really wanted to win tonight.
“We’re a better defensive team than we were earlier in the season, and we’re playing better together than we were earlier in the season.
“We always felt we could play and compete with a Cadillac if we found a way to play a little better together on the offensive end, and we improved immensely since the beginning of the season on the defensive end.”
Cadillac went on a 7-0 spurt to end the first quarter to take a 14-7 lead on the Orioles.
A bucket by Dylan Eaton drew the Orioles within three, 18-15 in the second quarter. But the Vikings outscored Ludington, 12-9 overall to lead, 23-19 at the half.
The Orioles would trail by six, 37-31 going into the fourth quarter.
It set up the exciting finish in the fourth quarter, one filled with incredible plays by the Orioles, including an outlet pass from LaCombe after a defensive rebound that led to a basket by Dylan Eaton that cut the deficit to three, 48-45.
David Shillinger scored 14 points to lead the Orioles, followed by Eaton with eight points. LaCombe finished with seven points.
Ludington finished 14-9. Cadillac is 17-5 and on a six-game winning streak.