By Mitchell Boatman
MUSKEGON TWP. — This year’s players on the Orchard View boys basketball team have been developing their skills together for years.
They’ve had some success over the past two years, going a combined 28-12, but appear headed for bigger things this season.
The Cardinals held off a second half rally from Ludington Friday night to top the Orioles 58-51, maintaining their perfect record and earning a two-game regular-season sweep over their Lakes 8 rival.
“They have a lot of belief in one another,” said OV coach Nick Bronsema about his team. “Truthfully, we’ve been working hard for a long time with this same group. Even with quarantine and everything, we were out at Mona Lake Park all summer long working on our skills. We believe because of all the hard work we’ve put in.”
Orchard View improved to 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in Lakes 8 play, while Ludington fell to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the conference, with both losses coming against OV.
It’s the first time in at least a dozen years — MHSAA year-by-year reports are only available since the 2009-10 season — that OV has topped Ludington twice in the same year.
“They’re as athletic as an OV team that I remember, and they play pretty well together,” said Ludington coach Thad Shank. “We came out and were a little passive on the offensive end. Give OV credit for that. When teams are as athletic as they are and play defense like they do, it’s easier said than done (to be aggressive offensively).”
Ke’Ontae Barnes once again led the Cardinal attack, registering 23 points, six rebounds and five steals.
“He has that ‘it’ factor,” Bronsema said about Barnes. “You just know, in every game, you’re going to get the best out of him. If he’s struggling in one area, he’s going to make something happen in another area.”
Freshman guard David Schillinger stood out for Ludington with a team-high 19 points, including three makes from deep.
“The kid’s got a ton of fight,” Bronsema said. “He’s an ultimate gamer. He reminds me of some of the guards (Ludington) has had in the past. He’s already fearless out there and he’s going to be a really great player.”
Orchard View never trailed in Friday’s game, starting the contest with an 8-2 run to gain an early advantage. The Cardinals led 10-6 after one quarter and 29-18 at halftime.
Orchard View led by as many as 17 points at 44-27 late in the third quarter, but hot three-point shooting sparked an Oriole comeback. Back-to-back triples for Ludington closed the gap to 44-33 heading into the fourth.
Another three, a layup and a pair of free throws brought the run to 13-0 and closed the gap to 44-40 with 5:24 remaining.
Orchard View scored the next four points, however, and the Orioles weren’t able to get closer than six points the rest of the way.
“Those are moments we live for,” Barnes said of closing out the game. “It’s either going to make you, or it’s going to break you. I told my team when we were out there, this is the time. We live for these moments.”
The Cardinals scored nine of their 14 fourth-quarter points at the free throw line, and were 16-for-27 at the line overall. Ludington attempted just four foul shots for the game, making them all.
JJ Tunstull scored 13 points for Orchard View. Darius Williams added eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Larry Brewer tossed in nine points.
Peyton LaCombe added 14 points for Ludington before fouling out with 3:33 to play. Brad Mesyar added nine on a trio of three-pointers.