In Play with Tom Markowski


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Loyer scores 35, makes crucial free throws down the stretch as Clarkston defeats Dakota, 63-58, in region final

By: Tom Markowski, March 18, 2015, 10:16 pm



Troy – Macomb Dakota tied the score at 55-55 on Steven Marshall’s two free throws with 2:12 left and with the game in the balance Clarkston coach Dan Fife went to his freshman, Foster Loyer, to decide the game.

Loyer, a 6-foot point guard, made six consecutive free throws, the last two with 39.5 seconds left, to give Clarkston a 61-55 lead and the Wolves survived a scare from Macomb Dakota and defeated the Cougars 63-58 in a Class A regional final at Troy High on Wednesday.

It’s Clarkston’s first region title since 2009. Clarkston (25-0), ranked No. 5, will play No. 7 U-D Jesuit (21-3) in a quarterfinal on Tuesday at Calihan Hall at 5:30 p.m.

Loyer had 35 points and was 12-of-14 from the free throw line. He had five 3-pointers and scored 13 in the fourth quarter.

Clarkston led 29-26 at halftime and 42-41 at the end of the third quarter. Loyer’s two free throws with 5:31 left gave his team a 51-43 lead and it appeared the Wolves had shaken the tall and athletic Cougars. The lead had changed hands seven times to that point in the second half and it looked like Clarkston was finally in control.

But Dakota coach Paul Tocco switched to a one-two-two half-court trap and it caused Clarkston serious problems. Jermaine Jackson, Jr., made a layup to cut the lead to six and that started a 10-0 run. Charles Penn’s 8-foot jumper ended the run and Dakota led 53-51 with 2:58 left.

“We came out and made a run to start the fourth,” Loyer said. “I had some mistakes against their press. They had some length at the top which made it hard to reverse it.”

Andrew Myers (12 points) tied the game at 53-53 on a driving layup. Clarkston regained the lead on Myers’ two free throws with 2:27 left.

Marshall made his two setting the stage for Loyer.

“I want to be at the line at that point,” Loyer said.

And why not? He doesn’t play nor handle the pressure like a freshman.

“He’s scary,” Fife said. “I coached my heart out. It’s incredible to have that comfort level. It’s hard to imagine he’s a freshman, especially in this environment.”

Dakota (21-3) gave Clarkston fits inside with its superior height and length. The Cougars held a 37-28 edge in rebounds led John Hall III with 13.  

Alex Hagel, 6-5 forward, scored 12 points in the first half including two 3-pointers. But Clarkston made some adjustments stopping Hagel’s pick and pop, and Hagel was held scoreless in the second half.

Jackson had 12 of his 14 in the second half and Marshall led Dakota with 16.

“They’re a good basketball team,” Tocco said. “I don’t know if we ran out of gas or what. We picked up the tempo late then had some turnovers and some unfortunate calls.

“(Loyer) is pretty good. He’s pretty good. We’ve got some good players, too.”

  When asked about his last regional title Fife said he couldn’t remember.

“All I know is I’ve lost my last game in each of the last 32 years,” he said.

This is Fife’s 33rd season as head coach at Clarkston and the program is still searching for its first state title.