By: Dan Stickradt
BOYS BASKETBALL: Loyer, Clarkston rolls past Warren DeLaSalle to reach state finals
BY DAN STICKRADT
EAST LANSING — Clarkston is headed back to the Class A state finals.
Foster Loyer wouldn’t have it any other way.
Neither would Nick Wells.
Or CJ Robinson.
Or Taylor Currie.
Loyer scored 17 of his game-high 42 points in the first quarter and Clarkston rolled to a convincing 74-49 triumph over unranked Warren DeLaSalle in the state semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
Loyer scored a combined 61 points in the last year’s state semifinals and finals and the Michigan State signee was back in his comfort zone Friday with another sterling performance that included four rebounds and four assists.
“This is my soon-to-be home and I’m excited to be here as are all of my teammates,” said Loyer. “We’ve been here before. I thought my teammates did a great job setting me up and I think I felt comfortable out there.”
Clarkston (25-1) advanced to the 12:15 p.m. state finals Saturday at the Breslin Center against the winner of seventh-ranked Holland West Ottawa and unranked Novi.
DeLaSalle threw everything but the kitchen sink at Loyer and Co. to try to stop the nationally-ranked Wolves. Nothing worked against Clarkston, which is 96-6 the past four years.
Clarkston has defeated its six postseason opponents by an average of 24.7 points a game. The Wolves are averaging 65.7 points an outing while yielding only 41 points a game.
“In my 31 years of coaching varsity basketball, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a player score that many against us,” said DeLaSalle coach Greg Esler. “He’s very deceptive. He might not be the most athletic player on the court, but he can shoot it and pass it as good as anybody. We couldn’t stop him.And they are a very good team.”
Currie, Clarkston’s 6-9 center who committed to Wisconsin, was only 8-for-18 shooting but finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Robinson chimed in with nine points, five assists and three steals, while fellow senior Nick Wells contributed another fine postseason floor game with four points, six rebounds and three steals for the defending state champion Wolves.
“It’s a good win to be honest with you,” said Clarkston coach Dan Fife. “Foster has been a little disabled with his knee and now CJ is hurt a little bit. This was good effort by our kids — great effort rebounding. That’s always important to us. Any time you can come here and win is great. I’ve been here three times now and we lost the first time (2009).”
Clarkston dominated on the glass, wiping up a 36-19 margin while forcing 14 turnovers. The Wolves have caused havoc on the defensive end, as each postseason opponent has turned the ball over in double digits.
Clarkston finished the night 25-for-47 shooting from the floor (53.2 percent) and sank 8-of-14 three-pointers (57.1).
“Our defense has been pretty good all season,” admired Fife. “These guys get after it in every practice and game.”
Senior forward Like Pfromm led three Pilots in double figures with 17 points. Senior guard Jordan Winowiecki added 12 points and senior guard Kole Gjonaj followed with 10 points. Senior guard Justin Fisher was held to four points but did register a game-high nine assists for DeLaSalle, which finished 20-for-47 from the floor (42.6) against the pesky Wolves defense.
Behind Loyer’s shooting and some crisp passing, Clarkston erupted to a 23-13 lead after the first quarter and used a 16-11 surge in the second stanza for a 39-24 halftime advantage.
DeLaSalle (19-8) cut the deficit to 32-20 with 4:18 to go in the second frame. That was as close as the Pilots could get on the radar screen.
Clarkston opened the third period with a swift 7-2 run for a 46-26 lead with 5:52 to go and DeLaSalle could never post any type of serious threat.
The Wolves outscored the Pilots 23-20 in the third quarter and 12-5 in the fourth stanza, holding DeLaSalle to just one point and without a field goal in the final 5:35 of the contest.
“I think everyone on this team knows their role and we all bring it in every practice and in every game, even the guys that don’t score much h or play much,” said Loyer. “I think that’s what makes us such a good team.”