Future Michigan State teammates, Foster Loyer and Xavier Tillman, impress in Class A Final
(PHOTO CREDIT – Dave Donoher)
East Lansing – In less than two years, Xavier Tillman and Foster Loyer will be teaming up at Michigan State as Tillman will begin his college career next season in East Lansing and Loyer will join the Spartans in 2018.
But on Saturday afternoon, the two gave a bit of a preview of what to expect when they squared off in the Class A state final at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
Loyer scored a game-high 29 points to lead Clarkston to its first state title, 75-69, over Tillman’s previously unbeaten Grand Rapids Christian team. Tillman finished with a team-best 25 points and seven rebounds for the game.
Between the Class A semifinals and finals played at the Breslin Center, Loyer totaled 60 points, 10 assists and just two turnovers.
“I know myself, I walked in here with the expectation of coming into these games and playing well and getting our team the victory,” Loyer said. “To play here is definitely exciting, the lights are a little bit brighter out there on the court, the stands, as they filled in, it was a great atmosphere to play in. To play here and know in a couple of years, I’ll be playing here is very special and I’m just honored to have this opportunity.”
After a quiet semifinal game, Tillman, who is an imposing force, standing at 6-8 and weighing 260 poinds, came out with a strong effort in Saturday’s game, scoring eight of his 25 points in the first quarter as several current Michigan State players and head coach Tom Izzo looked on.
Tillman said that he enjoyed seeing the support of his future teammates on Saturday and added that he looks forward to calling Loyer a teammate after playing against him.
“I love it when Tum Tum (Narin) and Miles (Bridges) and the guys come watch the games with coach Izzo,” he said. “To play against Foster, I don’t really think about it in the game, I think about the opponent, but after the game, it’s pretty cool to realize that I’ll be playing with him later on in my career.”
In Tillman’s two games at the Breslin Center, the 6-8 senior compiled 30 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and nine blocks.
Loyer said that he obviously knew what Tillman was capable of on the court, but was obviously impressed with his performance on Friday afternoon.
“I’ve known Xavier for a long time,” he said. “But when you step on that court, you know that I was going to give my best and he was going to give his best and we were going to go right at it. Xavier’s a great force inside like we talked about, he’s very skilled, very dominant, he’s a great passer, that’s probably one of his more underappreciated things in his game. He came out tonight and played very well.”
Much like Tillman, Loyer put together an impressive first quarter, knocking down three 3-pointers to help give Clarkston a 20-12 lead heading into the second quarter as the Wolves wouldn’t surrender the lead for the final three quarters.
While Loyer was harassed by Christian’s defensive pressure for much of Saturday’s game, the junior point guard still managed to shoot 8-for-16 from the floor and turned the ball over just twice in the win.
“That’s just his game, he can shoot the ball, he can handle the ball, he can pass the ball. It’s kind of like pick your poison when it comes to Foster,” Tillman said of Loyer. “When we tried to step up, he would drive by, give a pump fake, get a foul, two free throws. I mean it was hard to stop him, we couldn’t really stop him and he’s going to be a great player for us later on when he comes to Michigan State because he’s just a poised player and he can score the ball and that’s what we need.”
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!