By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING – If older brother is right, Joshua Laman might not remember much of the aftermath of his first 3-pointer this season.
But it’s a shot Ludington – and probably River Rouge – will never forget.
Laman, a sophomore center, had missed all nine of his tries behind the arc entering Friday’s Class B Semifinal. But as the seconds ticked down in overtime, Orioles senior and older brother Noah Laman had the instinct to pass to Joshua stationed in the left corner.
What he tossed up was something of a right shoulder heave, a little like a shot put. But as the final second clicked off the clock, Joshua Laman’s 3-pointer dropped through the net, sending Ludington to its first Class B championship game since 1953 with a 51-50 win over River Rouge.
“I don’t even know if he is thinking right now,” Noah Laman said a few minutes later from the postgame press conference. “I don’t think words can describe what’s going through any of our heads right now."
“He’s thinking that when I get back in that locker room,” Ludington coach Thad Shank added, “he’s going to look Coach Shank in the eye and say, ‘Told you coach I should be shooting these 3s all year long.’ I know that’s what he’s thinking.”
Ludington (25-2) will take on New Haven at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the season’s final game at the Breslin Center. The Orioles have never won an MHSAA boys basketball title, falling to St. Joseph 60-51 in that lone appearance more than 60 years ago.
This was their first Semifinal since 1971, and they weren’t going to let the opportunity slip by even if they were perceived to be a slight underdog ranked No. 8 heading into the postseason while River Rouge came in No. 2.
It looked for most of the game like the poll was accurate. Although Ludington put together a few runs to keep the game knotted midway through the third quarter, the Panthers (24-2) gradually opened up a lead that reached nine points with 1:48 to play in regulation.
That’s when the first set of heroics came into play. Senior guard and leading scorer Calvin Hackert made two 3-pointers and a free throw, and Noah Laman added the other bucket as the Orioles closed the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to send the game to overtime.
River Rouge got up by five again midway through the extra period. But Ludington closed on a 7-1 run, with Joshua Laman’s winning shot coming after a Rouge turnover with 30 seconds to play and then two missed shots and offensive rebounds by the Orioles, who otherwise were outrebounded for the game 24-20.
That turnover to set up the final possession was in addition to two more Panthers turnovers during the closing run of regulation. And Ludington pulled off the final charge after Hackert fouled out with his team still trailing by four.
“A couple times I told them hey, if on November 15 when we walked in this gym and we were down four or five points in the state Semifinal to River Rouge, would you take it?” Shank said. “We’ve gotta keep our heads up, and we’ve gotta keep fighting here.
“We are a pressure defensive team, and we have a lot of respect for Rouge and their quickness, and we haven’t played a team with that level of quickness to this point. So we didn’t really aggressively go after River Rouge like we do most teams. But the fact that that’s part of our package I think was huge down the stretch of the game, that that’s what we’re comfortable doing. It wasn’t something we were just throwing out, full court pressure that we’d never used before.”
River Rouge coach Mark White – who previously led Detroit Renaissance to Class A titles in 2004 and 2006 – could sense Ludington was working toward a dramatic end.
He said it was his Panthers’ worst game this season – and obviously the worst time for it. But how Ludington pulled off its last-second success wasn’t lost on him.
“Well, luck is something that’s created. We got a defensive stop, and we teach and emphasize that defense isn’t over until we get the rebound,” White said. “And we didn’t finish the defensive possession. We got them to miss a couple shots, and there were a couple loose balls. It went down to that determination factor, and Ludington wanted it, by their behavior, more than we did … and again, when you give as much as they did, the basketball gods are on your side because you deserve and that happens in March.”
Sophomore Darian Owens-White led River Rouge with 19 points, and junior Jayvien Torrance added 10.
Hackert led Ludington with 20 points, and Joshua Laman had 11. Also worth noting, junior center Will Sadler had seven points, making all three of his shots including his only 3-pointer this winter as well.
Laman’s final shot led to a pile of Orioles players in Breslin’s southwest corner, right in front of a sea of orange-clad fans taking up nearly three full sections of the lower bowl.
“We can tell how big a deal it is just by the support of the community,” Hackert said. “The crowd was electric tonight, and it shows how much they revolve around us and really support us. And to be playing in the state championship, it’s just awesome. I can’t even explain it.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Ludington’s Calvin Hackert puts up a shot as a River Rouge defender works to block his path. (Middle) Rouge’s Darian Owens-White goes up for a layup on the way to scoring 19 points.
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.