SCOTTVILLE — After suffering two losses in its last three games and the district tournament looming ahead, the Ludington boys basketball team concluded the regular season with a resounding 68-40 non-conference win over inter-county rival Mason County Central on Thursday night at Scottville.
Providing the spark for the Orioles were Dylan Eaton and David Shillinger, who each rattled home three 3-pointers apiece to help Ludington roar out to a 20-point lead at the half. The Orioles never looked back.
“The kids get excited about playing Mason County Central,” said Orioles head coach Thad Shank.
“They grew up with all those kids. They’re friends.
“It was a fun atmosphere tonight for the kids to play in. Hopefully, the atmosphere prepares you a little bit for the tournament.
“We knew going in it was going to be a battle of different styles. I felt that Mason County Central wanted it to be more of a half-court type of affair, a grind it out affair.
“We feel much more comfortable when we’re playing up tempo and fast. We really shot the ball from the perimeter well early, and that allowed us to set our defenses and make the game an up tempo game like we wanted to play tonight.”
Ludington certainly got a charge out of the electricity that was in the air, and moved out to a 16-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Orioles kept up the pressure on the Spartans in the second quarter, racing to a 17-8 advantage which ballooned their lead to 33-13 at halftime.
“I felt they sped us up,” said Spartans head coach Tim Genson. “We missed close to 10 layups. That just changes the complexion of the game.
“Yes, there’s guys feeling pressure, but you still have to make that. And the Shillinger kid comes out hot, made some early three’s and stretched us out of our zone a little bit more than we wanted to be.
“I felt we responded and played better in the second half. Tough opponent. They were coming off a couple tough losses. They weren’t taking us lightly at all.
“Hopefully we can bounce back Monday at McBain and play hopefully like we should.”
Despite the Spartans improved play in the second half, they couldn’t put a dent in the Orioles’ lead.
Ludington outscored the Spartans, 19-10 in the third quarter and rolled into the fourth quarter with a 52-23 lead. The Spartans had a 17-16 edge in the final eight minutes.
Shillinger led all scorers in the game with 16 points for the Orioles. Eaton ended up with 15 and Matthew Westhouse added 10.
Mason County Central was led in scoring by Will Chye who scored 12 points, Jayden Perrone contributed 10 and Kolden Myer chipped in with nine points and five rebounds. Perrone and Chye had five rebounds apiece.
The Orioles finished the regular season with an 11-8 record, and will face Reed City (13-6) in the MHSAA Division 2 district tournament hosted by Manistee on Monday.
“I think it will be a fun game for people to watch,” Shank said. “Reed City likes to play fast and furious like we do. They have a lot of perimeter threats and good basketball players.
“They like to extend their defense and play 94 feet, so we’ll find out maybe who does that better Monday night.”
Mason County Central saw its record slip to 5-14 with its third straight loss. The Spartans tip off the MHSAA Division 2 district at McBain against Harrison (5-13) on Monday at 7 p.m.
Check out photos from the action shot by Joe Washington.