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Loyer scores 42, Clarkston defeats DeLaSalle, 74-49, in a Class A semifinal

By: Tom Markowski, March 23, 2018, 3:42 pm

East Lansing – The much-anticipated coaching match-up between Clarkston’s Dane Fife and Greg Esler Warren DeLaSalle wasn’t close. Foster Loyer saw to that.

Foyer put on a show, for the fans at the Breslin Center and for many of his future teammates at Michigan State who sat at courtside. Loyer, this season’s recipient of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, like few have against the Pilots.

Loyer scored 42 points to lead Clarkston to an unexpectedly easy 74-49 victory over DeLaSalle in a Class A semifinal on Friday at the Breslin Center on the Michigan State campus.

Clarkston (25-1) will play Holland West Ottawa (25-2) for the championship on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. West Ottawa defeated Novi (17-9), 53-50, in the second semifinal.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Loyer plays so well at the Breslin Center. He’s comfortable here and seems to thrive on the big stage. Clarkston won its first state title last season and Loyer totaled 61 points in the two games here, the semifinal and final.

Loyer was 12-of-17 from the field, 7-11 from the 3-point range and made all of his 11 free throw attempts. He also had four rebounds and three assists.

Taylor Currie, who signed with Wisconsin, added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and CJ Robinson had nine points and five assists.

“When he gets going,” Robinson said. “Not many people can stop him.”

Loyer and Clarkston got it going early. Loyer made five 3-pointers in the first quarter, the last from 25 feet at the horn, and Clarkston led 23-13.

Loyer made his sixth 3-pointer of the first half to give the Wolves their largest lead to that point, 39-20, with 2:03 left. Baskets by Jordan Winowiecki and Justin Fischer closed the gap to 39-24 at halftime.

DeLaSalle (19-8) never got closer than 12 points in the second half.

What makes Loyer’s performance all that more impressive is the fact that he suffered a (left) knee injury a week before the start of the tournament and his status was uncertain at that time. Loyer missed one game during the regular season and hasn’t missed one since.

When asked about his injured knee Loyer dismissed it.

“We’re just excited, me and my team,” he said.

Knee injury or no injury Loyer controlled the game like few players can or have.

“Foster keeps an even keel,” Fife said. “Our players know that. They get relaxed because of that.”

Said Loyer: “We come out with a mindset to attack. Me and my teammates threw the first punch. We’re going to control the pace of the game. We’re going to make them adjust to us.”

DeLaSalle tried a number of defenses to contain Loyer. None worked. The Pilots came out in a zone and the result was Loyer making a handful of 3-pointers. They switched to a man-to-man and double-teamed Loyer and that wasn’t effective either.

“I don’t think in my 31 years as a varsity coach my team has given up that many points (to one player),” Esler said. “(Loyer) is so deceiving. He reminds me of Cassius Winston (U-D Jesuit, MSU). He’s a winner. Our defense was geared to stop him.

“What people don’t understand about Foster is his work ethic. He outworks everybody. He knows how to draw fouls. He knows how to get on the good side of the officials. And that’s to his credit. We knew he’d get some calls. I told our players to work through that.”

Luke Pfromm led DeLaSalle, making its first semifinal appearance since 2007, with 17 points, Winowiecki had 12 and Kole Gjonaj had 10. Point guard Justin Fischer had nine assists.

This is Fife’s 36th season as Clarkston’s head coach. Esler is in his 24th at DeLaSalle after spending seven seasons at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore where he coached the Shorians to a Class B title. Despite coaching in neighboring counties, Oakland and Macomb, this was the first time the two coaches coached against one another.