By Greg Gielczyk

MANISTEE — Ludington wasn’t in a sharing mood Friday night.
The Oriole girls’ basketball team secured sole possession of the West Michigan Conference Lakes title with a 52-40 victory over Manistee.
After sharing the Lakes 8 Activities Conference title with Western Michigan Christian the last 2 years, it felt good to be all alone at the top.
“It’s cool,” said Ludington coach Warren Stowe. “To win it outright is a big accomplishment for those girls, and to play against a really talented Manistee team that can shoot like that all the time (made it so much sweeter).
“Just finding the (Jayna) Edmondson girl, the (Libby) McCarthy girl and then Lacey (Zimmerman), she can also shoot it … they just make it hard for you to guard.
“We had trouble finding them all night. I was proud with the fact when they cut it to eight going into the fourth quarter, we were able to stretch it out and get a little bit of a lead there halfway through.”
The Orioles appeared to put the Chippewas away on several occasions, but always finding Manistee scrambling back to get the score under double digits.
Olivia Lynn drilled a 3-pount shot that gave the Orioles a 12-point advantage, 34-22, well past the halfway mark of the third period.
Zimmerman splashed a triple shortly before the horn that left Manistee still within reach, 34-26, heading into the fourth quarter.
Ludington responded again, though, with a 10-0 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Elianna Jeruzal. Again, it appeared the Orioles to have Manistee on the ropes with a 17-point lead, 43-26.
The Orioles led 15-5 after the first quarter. Edmondson knocked home two 3-pointers to bring Manistee back in the game, cutting Ludington’s lead to nine, 25-14 at the half.
“We never went away,” said Manistee coach Kenn Kott. “We were always there, just hanging, just hanging. It (Ludington’s lead) got to be six and went back to 14, then down to eight and back up to 12. But, we were always there, and kept coming at them. Some missed shots and errant passes, things like that, kept us down. I think, too, their height advantage really hurt us.”
Keelyn Laird led the Orioles with 13 points. Lynn contributed 12 and McKinley had seven. Edmondson tossed in a game-high 18 points for the Chippewas. She was followed by McCarthy with nine and Zimmerman chipped in with seven.
Ludington (13-5, 10-1) travels to Traverse City West on Tuesday.
Manistee (7-11, 4-6) travels to Hesperia next Tuesday.