By Greg Gielczyk
But it was a different story Friday night when the Mariners traveled south for the rematch in the West Michigan Conference Lakes Division.
Libby McCarthy and Avamae Fett helped the Mariners stay close throughout the game before the Orioles finally gained separation late and turned them back, 56-42 on Parents’ Night.
“You wouldn’t expect anything less,” said Ludington coach Warren Stowe of the fight Manistee gave. “Those are talented kids and tough kids. We knew that, and that we’d have to play our best to compete. I thought that after the first half we got (in the locker room) at halftime, and we talked it out, and in that third and fourth quarter we strung together some better possessions, I guess I would say.”
The Orioles took a 14-6 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Ludington surged into a 10-point lead, 20-10, with 5;25 left in the second quarter. But the Mariners came right back and chopped five points off the Oriole lead, 26-21 at the half.
The Orioles threatened to pull away again in the third, stepping out to a 13-point lead, 37-25.
Manistee managed to shave five points off the lead, and trailed by eight, 38-30, starting the fourth quarter.
“I was really proud of the kids,” Manistee coach Kenn Kott said. “They had bloody noises, and bloody lips, broken backs. We were fighting through all kinds of things. Foul trouble and all that. But boy, they never stopped battling, I was impressed with the way they played defense. You pick your poison. You’re going to give up a shot sooner or later, in a certain spot, and they managed to hit the ones that we gave up.”
The Mariners were within seven early in the fourth period, but the Orioles went on a 6-0 run to spread the margin out to 13 again, 47-34, and held a double figure lead thereafter.
“We have a big time tendency to turn the ball over against pressure, and we certainly turned it over our fair share tonight,” Stowe said. “But, when we needed to we got good possessions.”
Peyton Welch led the Orioles with 13 points, Madelyn Kenyon contributed nine and Jaelyn Laird added seven.
Libby McCarthy finished with 13 points to lead the Mariners, while Avamae Fett added 12 and Alayna Edmondson seven.
Ludington improved to 11-6 overall, 8-1 in the conference. The Orioles host Traverse City West Monday night in a non-conference game.
Manistee dropped to 4-12 overall and 3-6 in the conference. The Mariners host Hesperia in a conference crossover game on Monday night.