Clarkston dominates West Ottawa, 81-38, to win second straight Class A title
East Lansing – After making it to just two Class A semifinals from 1980-2009, while never making it to a championship game, Clarkston made its second straight Class A Finals appearance on Saturday afternoon taking on Holland West Ottawa, looking to claim its second title in school history.
The Wolves were dominant from the start, jumping out to a 19-6 lead after one quarter and rolling to a convincing 81-38 win, led by a game-high 40 points from Mr. Basketball Foster Loyer.
While Clarkston’s efficiency at the offensive end stole the show in most ways, longtime Clarkton head coach Dan Fife felt that his team’s defensive effort was a key on Saturday afternoon.
“That was an outstanding performance by our kids defensively, rebounding and controlling the boards,” he said. “I thought the difference was we were able to come out right from the start and take the lead. Then our defense, we did a great job on defense, we talked about it last night going over film and we played about as well as we could play.”
The 43-point win marks the largest margin of victory in Class A finals history.
Clarkston (26-1) wasted little time getting out of the gates as the Wolves took a 9-2 lead behind a pair of 3-pointers from Loyer and another triple from senior C.J. Robinson less than four minutes into the opening frame.
Loyer became Clarkston’s all-time leading scorer on his second 3-pointer, passing Dane Fife, the son of Dan Fife and the 1998 Mr. Basketball winner. Loyer finished the game with 2,323 career points, which ranks him 11th all-time in MHSAA history.
After starting the week by winning the Mr. Basketball award and finishing the week with a second straight state championship, Loyer admitted that he couldn’t think of a better way to have finished off his high school career with his teammates.
“No, I don’t quite think so,” he said. “To be able to win two state championships, my teammates and myself, I don’t think we could have asked for a much better finish.”
After pushing the lead to 19-6 at the end of the first quarter, the Wolves picked up right where they left off in the second quarter as the Clarkston lead would grow to 29 in the second quarter as the Wolves closed out the half on a 14-2 run. Loyer poured in a finals record 19 points in the second quarter to help lead Clarkston to a more than comfortable 49-20 lead at halftime.
Loyer finished just nine points shy of Keith Appling’s finals scoring record of 49, set back in the 2009 Class A Final.
West Ottawa (25-3) head coach Steve Windemuller admitted that Loyer was a difficult player to game plan for heading into Saturday’s game and admitted that he was impressed by the star senior’s performance.
“Hope he misses, without being really simple and I’m pretty darn simple with these guys sometimes,” he said. “But you hope he has a bit of an off night and he shot 12-of-17 yesterday and today, he shot 14-of 19. You don’t know if he can do it two days in a row, we were hoping he couldn’t do it two years in a row, but I told our kids before that there were some people on social media saying he was going to drop 50 on us and it sure looked like he was going to do that in the first half.”
Clarkston’s senior class finishes its high school career with a 97-6 record to go along with winning the first two state titles in Clarkston history, something Fife said is a testament to their chemistry and time and effort they’ve put in over the last four years.
“97-6 is pretty impressive, that means I coached my heart out,” Fife laughed. “These kids have been fun to work with, I’ve always said in my mind, you have to be happy with who you can lose with, but these kids – just the way they go about their business when I’m not there, I don’t have to be there, I don’t have to tell them to get in the gym, they’ve done it on their own. I don’t know how it started last year, but I’m sure Foster had something to do with it, they started leaving the huddle with ‘Family’. These kids are extremely close, they have a great relationship both on and off the court and I have to believe it’s going to carry on forever.”