Foster Loyer leads Clarkston to first title as Wolves down G.R. Christian, 75-69, in Class A final
(PHOTO CREDIT – Dave Donoher)
East Lansing – Foster Loyer sat at the podium during a postgame news conference with the big, wooden state championship trophy shielding him from the bright lights of the news cameras.
It might have been the only time all day that the Clarkston shooting star was out of the spotlight.
Loyer, a junior point guard who committed to Michigan State, scored 29 points as the Wolves won the first boys basketball title in school history. Clarkston (27-1) led from start to finish, defeating top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian (27-1), 75-69, in the Class A title game on Saturday at the Breslin Center.
“This whole season has been a great journey for my teammates and myself. (It feels good) to come out here and play well tonight,” Loyer said. “Ultimately, to win this state championship … not only means everything to us as players, as a team and a family, but knowing we were able to get that done for Coach Fife is what we’ve been dreaming about since we’ve played basketball here it Clarkston. It’s been a phenomenal experience. We’re loving life right now.”
It’s been a long journey for coach Dan Fife. This is his 35th year with Clarkston (27-1) and he finally got his first title.
“It’s unexplainable right now. I really don’t know how to put it,” Fife said. “All I know is I’ve been through three Clarkston gyms during my tenure. I’m proud of our kids. Clarkston is a special place.”
While Loyer had the hot hand, it was Taylor Currie who had, perhaps, the best game of all.
Currie, a 6-7 sophomore center, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He did all that while guarding Xavier Tillman, a 6-8, 260-pound forward, who signed with MSU.
“It would be easier to guard him with a semi-truck,” Fife said. “I thought he (Currie) did a good job with that, especially rebounding and adjusting on ball screens. I think he’s grown up a lot in these tournaments.”
Currie had a bandage on his nose and forehead after the game. It can happen when you battle with a guy like Tillman.
“I’ve always prided myself in my toughness,” said Currie, who transferred to Clarkston from Westerville, Ohio, where he attended Worthington Christian. “I’m not scared of anybody. I’ll never back down no matter who I’m going up against.”
Tillman, who was second in the Mr. Basketball voting, finished with 25 points and seven rebounds.
“We knew he was a great force in the paint,” Currie said. “My main focus going into the game was staying in front (of Tillman) knowing I’d have help in the back. Keeping him off the glass … that was really something we keyed in on. He’s great on offense.”
Tillman wasn’t happy with the loss, but he wasn’t disappointed with the season.
“I’m disappointed,” Tillman said. “We lost the state championship game. But, at the same time, Coach (Mark Warners) said in the locker room before the game ‘give it all you’ve got’. And that’s exactly what I did. So I’m not really feeling like ‘I wish I coulda, I wish I coulda.’ I just did the best I could. So I’ve gotta live with the results.”
Tillman is excited to play with Loyer in another year.
“That’s just his game,” Tillman said. “He can shoot the ball, he can handle the ball, he can pass the ball. It’s like pick your poison with Foster. It was hard to stop him. He’s going to be a great player for us later on when it comes to Michigan State.”
Loyer had his way offensively. The 5-11, 165-pound guard was 8-of-16 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. He made four 3-pointers, had five rebounds and three assists.
“That’s who he is,” Fife said of the scrappy guard. “Diving for the ball against all odds. If you came to our practice, he does the same thing in practice. He’s created a huge atmosphere in our program with that kind of effort.”
Christian coach Mark Warners said Loyer was tough to cover.
“We knew who he was,” Warners said. “He was on top of our scouting reports. He made some shots and we miscommunicated a couple of times. But we were exactly where we wanted to be (defensively) and he made some shots. With him, you can’t foul him. So we had to back off of him a little bit.”
The entire Clarkston offense was frustrating Grand Rapids Christian.
“We scored 69 points, so offensively, we were fine,” Warners said. “The problem was giving up 75. The credit goes to Clarkston. We just didn’t have an answer, consistently (for them).”
C.J. Robinson, a junior guard, had one of his best games of the season. He finished with 14 points and played a good game defensively on the Eagles guards. Dylan Alderson, a senior forward, finished with 12 points.
For the Eagles, Duane Washington, Jr., a junior guard, had 16 points and had four 3-pointers. Setric Millner, Jr., a junior forward, had 11 points.
“Coming here to the Breslin has been such a great experience,” Loyer said. “We, as a team, prided ourselves in blocking out everything going on around us. Today we were able to get the job done.”
Editor’s Note: Remember to watch the highlights from this game and all of Saturday’s Boys Basketball State Championship games on the STATE CHAMPS! HS Sports Show on Sunday morning at 9:00am on Fox Sports Detroit!