MONTAGUE — David Shillinger has been confident and carefree on the basketball court since his freshman year, when he sported longer hair and occasionally cornrows as a spunky starting guard for Ludington’s varsity team.
The nickname “Sunshine,” cemented by Todd “Scoop” Hansen of the Oriole Sports Network, has stuck for a reason.
Shillinger added a new moniker Tuesday night at Montague: King David, as David Bossick wrote in the Ludington Daily News headline, after the senior guard became the Orioles’ all-time leading boys scorer in a 65-53 victory over the host Wildcats.
Shillinger’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:57 left in the contest gave the Ludington legend a game-high 34 points and moved him to the top of the Orioles’ boys scoring list. He now has 1,339 career points and counting, having passed 1972 Ludington alumnus Mike Larsen, who amassed 1,336.
Shillinger, who claims he stands 5-foot-10 even though he’s probably closer to 5-8 or 5-9, said he felt no pressure regarding the record.
“I enjoy the moment. If I wasn’t going to get it tonight, I was going to get it sometime this season,” he said about the record. “I didn’t really care if I got it tonight or the next game, but I feel blessed to get it tonight.”
Ludington’s all-time scoring record for girls or boys belongs to 1997 alumna Mandy Stowe, who was a Michigan Miss Basketball runner-up as a senior and a three-time all-stater. She poured in a whopping 2,160 career points on top of grabbing 1,210 rebounds.
Stowe’s scoring mark is way out of reach for Shillinger, but he’s doing all he can to etch his name in the Ludington record books.
On Tuesday, Shillinger scored nine points in the first quarter, six in the second, 12 in the third, and seven in the fourth. He finished with five 3-pointers.
In last Thursday’s 64-56 home win over then-unbeaten Oakridge, Shillinger scored 45 points to Ludington single-game record performances by Larsen and Steve Schoenner. In the game, Shillinger finished 19-of-21 from the free-throw line, including 7-of-8 in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Shillinger is enjoying a monster season in leading Ludington to a 6-1 overall record and 3-0 mark in the West Michigan Conference Lakes Division. He’s totaled 212 points to this point for an average of 30.3 per game.
“I’ve been around Ludington basketball a long, long time,” Ludington coach Thad Shank said. “Since my dad was a coach when I was a little kid, (it’s been) nearly 50 years around Ludington basketball and it’s just rare to see a kid who can score so many ways, especially in a 5-8, 5-9 package like the kid is. He’s got a gear that you just don’t see that gear very often and we’ve been blessed to have him in our program.
“When he shoots a 3-point shot, you’re surprised when it doesn’t go in. For a kid his size, he can get to the rim and finish under control. He plays off two feet and strong incredibly well. He doesn’t miss at the free-throw line,” Shank continued. “And then on top of that, on defense I don’t know if we’ve had a kid that anticipates and can turn that gear on to get to balls and stuff like he does on defense and all the points he creates on defense. It’s just obviously been a blessing to coach him.”
Call him “Sunshine” or “King David,” or whatever you want.
Shillinger’s going to keep smiling and scoring. He respects Ludington’s rich basketball tradition and appreciates his coaches, teammates, and players that have come before him.
“Oh, just the culture here at Ludington, we always have guys coming back in, working out with us that even graduated (years ago). They were in last night, getting us prepared for this game,” Shillinger said. “The culture is great.”
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
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