East Lansing – Joshua Laman knocked down a 3-pointers from the left corner as time expired in overtime Friday night to lead Ludington to a dramatic 51-50 comeback victory over River Rouge in a Class B state semifinal at the Breslin Center.
River Rouge (24-2) looked in control late in regulation, holding a 43-34 lead with 1:48 left before guard Calvin Hackert scored seven, including a pair of 3-pointers, during a 9-0 run to force overtime.
Again, River Rouge looked in control with a 49-44 cushion before Ludington’s final comeback, including a basket by Josiah Bandstra off an inbounds pass, then Laman’s winning 3-pointer off a pass from Noah Laman, his older brother.
“I love the fight in our kids,” said Ludington coach Thad Shank. “We haven’t played in a lot of close games this year, but we never gave up and I thought they made some good decisions down the stretch in chaos. It was a huge shot by Josh Laman, Noah’s younger brother, to give us a chance to play another day.”
Ludington (25-2) will play New Haven in the state championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
It was Noah Laman that made the pass in chaos, just seconds after first getting his shot blocked by Dan Few, then missing a 3-pointer before Bandstra grabbed the rebound.
“Josiah got a huge offensive rebound,” said Noah Laman of the winning play. “He kicked it out to me and I tried to get a look and it wasn’t there. I just saw my brother out of the corner of my eye. He was open and made the shot.”
Josh Laman was 0-for-9 from deep range before the buzzer-beater.
Ludington made 6-of-12 3-pointers with Hackert making 4-of-6 and finishing with 20 points before fouling out with 50.6 seconds left in overtime and River Rouge holding a 49-46 lead.
Hackert showed his swagger, making a first-half 3-pointers, then looking to River Rouge’s loud student section with a finger over his mouth to silence the crowd.
It was an offensive struggle throughout and it looked like River Rouge was going to get the job done at the defensive end to close out the game in the fourth quarter.
First, River Rouge got blocks from 6-foot-2 senior forward Jairus Grissom and Delantae Peterson in the final minutes, then DreQuan Bell took a charge on Ludington star Sam LaDuke, fouling him out of the game with 2:34 left and River Rouge holding a 39-33 lead.
River Rouge built its largest lead at 43-34 with 1:48 left before Hackert’s 3-pointerss brought Ludington back.
Then, Ludington’s full-court pressure forced multiple turnovers, leading to River Rouge’s downfall.
“They’ve done that all year, really good defensive team with the schemes and traps that they do and all year we have seen that type of pressure and done a lot better job than we did today,” River Rouge first-year coach Mark White said. “Sixteen turnovers is uncharacteristic for us. Again, this is March Madness and the magnitude of the game, the arena. I can’t manufacture an excuse. I just have to give Ludington credit.”
River Rouge senior point guard Darian Owens-White had 19 points and Jayvien Torrance had 10 points and six rebounds for River Rouge, which made 22-of-31 free throws, but just 7-of-11 during the fourth quarter, opening the door for Ludington to put together a magical comeback.