Big third quarter leads Clarkston to convincing win over Walled Lake Western
Clarkston – At times, a team’s defense can be its best offense and that held true for Clarkston on Friday night.
With Clarkston playing host to Walled Lake Western for the first time since 1990, the Wolves found themselves in a back and forth first half, but took a 30-28 lead into halftime lead after a Foster Loyer 3-pointer just beat the buzzer to end the second quarter.
But in the second half, Clarkston’s defense wreaked havoc on Western, limiting the Warriors to just 15 second half points as the Wolves would cruise to a convincing 67-43 win.
Clarkston head coach Dan Fife said that his team came out in the third quarter looking to play better defense and play at a quicker pace.
“We just wanted to guard them better, make it a little more difficult for them, speed the game up a little bit into our speed, don’t give them easy, wide open looks,” he said. “I just think we played better defense in the third quarter and we were able to get stops and score in transition.”
The Wolves (7-0) opened up the second half on a 17-2 run, which included eight straight points from Loyer (committed to Michigan State) to take a commanding 47-30 lead.
Loyer said that the key to his team’s run to start the third quarter was its defense leading to points in transition for the Wolves.
“We were pretty stagnant in the first half, just as far as our movement and everything about our offense as a team,” he said. “We came out and wanted to pick up the pressure on defense and we came out and hit a few shots and that got us rolling, but ultimately, our defense leads to our offense. We got a few easy buckets and that helped our confidence and everything that goes with it. It was a great start to the second half and it got us rolling for the rest of the game.”
After scoring 30 points in the first half, Clarkston would score 26 points in the third quarter alone, led by 12 points from Loyer and six points from Nick Wells as the Wolves took a 56-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Fife noted that he was pleased with his team’s offensive play in the third quarter, playing at a more preferable pace than it did in the first half.
“We want to play at our tempo, we want to control the pace and a lot of times, our pace doesn’t have to be fast,” he said. “We moved the ball and made good decisions, you don’t have to play 94-feet, you can play 40-feet and play with the same effort and do the same thing.”
Loyer led all scorers with a game-high 27 points and seven assists on the night, while Wells contributed 10 points in the win for Clarkston.
In the first half, Clarkston would take a 25-19 lead midway through the second quarter after a 3-pointer from Loyer and a pair of free throws from C.J. Robinson, but a Delano Smith 3-pointer would trigger a quick 8-0 run for Western (5-1) to take a 27-25 lead shortly before halftime.
“We’ve talked about it, even before this game, this is who Clarkston is, they are a 32 minute team, that will play for 32 minutes, regardless of the situation or the score,” Western head coach Denny Butcher said. “Coming out of the half, we really concentrated on making the decision to be as tough as we can to try and hold them down. At the end of the day, when they make shots and we give up some offensive rebounds, we’re doomed for failure.
Smith led Western with a team-high 22 points and five assists.