EAST LANSING, Mich. — Sophomore Joshua Laman picked a good time to make his first three-pointer of the season.
The 6-foot-4 center nailed a winning three at the buzzer in overtime, helping Ludington to a thrilling 51-50 victory over River Rouge in the Class B semifinal at the Breslin Center.
Laman, who set up on the baseline near his team’s bench, took a pass from his older brother, senior Noah, with time winding down. Joshua got a good look as a River Rouge defender leaped toward him.
“We had barely any time left, so I just went up with it,” said Joshua, who’s now 1-for-10 from three-point range. “I got the ball and quick-shot it. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Senior guard Calvin Hackert finished with 20 points, including the game-tying free throw late in regulation, for the Orioles (25-2), who advance to face New Haven (26-1) in Saturday’s final at 6:30 p.m.
“I was praying to God it was going in,” Hackert said of Joshua Laman’s winner. “I saw it go up and it felt like slow motion. He hadn’t hit a three all year, and I was thinking, ‘Why not this one?’”
Ludington, which trailed, 41-33, with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter, rallied, and Hackert’s three-pointer cut the deficit to 43-42 with 45 seconds left. He then made one of two free throws with 20 seconds left.
River Rouge had two chances to win on its final possession of regulation, but sophomore guard Darian Owens-White and senior Jairus Grissom each missed jumpers.
On their final possession of overtime, trailing, 50-48, the Orioles missed two shots, grabbing the offensive rebound both times, before Joshua Laman’s heroics.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “We got a little bit of luck, which is what we needed.”
Owens-White had 19 points and three steals, and junior guard Jayvien Torrance scored 10 for the Panthers (24-2), who were seeking their first state title since winning back-to-back Class B crowns in 1998-99.
“Luck is something that’s created,” River Rouge coach Mark White said. “We emphasize that defense isn’t over until we get the rebound, and we didn’t finish the defensive possession. There were a couple loose balls and it went down to that determination factor.”
Ludington is seeking its first boys basketball state title.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Hackert said. “The fact that we’re playing in the state championship, it’s unreal.”