It seems Michigan State-bound point guard Foster Loyer wants the title of Mr. Basketball and, more importantly, to lead Clarkston (21-1) to consecutive Class A state championships.
Loyer, a Mr. Basketball finalist, played in Friday’s 77-35 district title win over Oxford, scoring 33 and making 9 3-pointers in his final game on Clarkston’s home floor.
Loyer missed Senior Night – a 48-38 win over Hazel Park on March 1 to clinch the OAA Red title outright – due to a slight meniscus tear in his left knee.
There were doubts if Loyer would be able to play in the postseason due to the injury. But after Clarkston received an opening-game bye, Loyer played and scored 16 in a district semifinal win over Lake Orion Wednesday, then was back to form in the district championship game win.
“He made nine 3s,” said longtime Clarkston coach Dan Fife, laughing at the thought of Loyer’s effort coming just days after there were thoughts of shutting him down for the postseason. “And, I did talk to one of the doctors and he did say there is a slight tear in the meniscus. I don’t know the significance of it, all I know is he’s moving a little bit better than he has and he’s doing a little better.
“He’s not practicing with us full-bore. Basically, when he’s in we just walk through our sets, walk through what we’re thinking, not as much physical stuff. We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize things.”
Even after the initial injury report, Fife thought Loyer might be back for a Clarkston playoff run.
“He’s so competitive that deep down I thought if there was a chance he could play he would play,” said Fife. “He’s a competitor and he wants to play, and I think the doctors – in fairness to everybody – I think they wanted to be careful, and so did I. I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize his career. But I know Foster well enough to know what type of kid he is. I knew he wanted to play if at all possible and he’s smart enough not to do stuff where he might re-injure it.”
Clarkston moves on to the regional at West Bloomfield, facing OAA Red rival Troy (17-5) Monday at 7 p.m.
Loyer has played well in the two meetings against Troy this season, scoring 30 in a 58-49 win Feb. 17 and 44 in a 59-54 victory on Jan. 9, making 9-of-10 free throws during the final two minutes after Troy pulled within 50-49.
In the other regional semifinal at West Bloomfield, Rochester Adams (14-8) will face Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-7) at 5 p.m. Adams has made one of the biggest turnarounds in the state this season after going 0-20 last year.
The survivor of the Class C regional semifinal between Detroit Edison and Detroit Pershing will have a legitimate shot at moving on to the Breslin Center next weekend for a shot at the state championship. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. Monday at Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
Pershing (12-10) won the two regular-season games – 80-71 on Jan. 16 and 59-52 on Feb. 2 – before Edison (12-10) avenged the losses with a dominating 82-45 win at Calihan Hall on Feb. 16 for the PSL championship, behind the 19-point effort of Central Michigan-bound point guard Pierre Mitchell.
Mitchell has teamed up with Gary Solomon (LIU-Brooklyn) and 6-foot-8 Deante Johnson (Cleveland State) to form a solid nucleus, with Bo Neely’s team also getting strong contributions from Keith Johnson and Dominyck Thomas.
Wydell Henry’s Pershing team has bounced back nicely since the one-sided loss, defeating Warren Michigan Collegiate (80-63) and Clinton Township Clintondale (71-44) in the district at Warren Michigan Collegiate.
Pershing is led by senior guards D’Juan Seal and Ron Hill, along with 6-8 Johnny Davis and 6-6 Jaylen Benning.
Belleville, Wayne on collision course
Belleville was ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News preseason rankings.
The Tigers had early-season struggles before getting into top-10 form, defeating Saline 57-49 Friday for the district title at Ypsilanti Lincoln and the right to move on to the regional at Dearborn.
Belleville (18-5), led by Michigan State-bound forward Gabe Brown, will play Dearborn Edsel Ford (15-8) Monday at 5 p.m. with the winner playing the survivor of the semifinal between Wayne (16-7) and Gibraltar Carlson (18-5).
“We’re hoping we’re peaking in March; that was our goal back in the summer,” said Belleville coach Adam Trumpour. “Gabe was limited to single digits (against Saline), but had 15 rebounds, so we proved he can do some other things for us on an off-night. Other guys stepped up, Davion (Williams) played well, I thought Devin Alverson had a great second half, Connor Bush and Jalen Williams really did a great job, kind of as that sophomore duo playing out of position inside.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet, but we’re on an upward trend. Kaevon (Merriweather, transfer from Romulus) has been a leader from Day 1.”
Nkwane Young earned a district title in three different classes when he guided Wayne to its first district championship in 21 years with an 84-46 rout of Dearborn Heights Crestwood for the Class A district title at Wayne Friday.
Young led Detroit Community to Class C district championships in 2005 and ’06, and Detroit Frederick Douglass to Class D district titles in 2007, 2010, ’11, ’12, ’13 and ’14.
Cleveland State-bound guard Rashad Williams is averaging 23.7 points and 6.7 assists for Wayne, and Isaiah Lewis 17.5 points and six assists. They combined for 43 points and 11 3-pointers in the title game with Lewis scoring 23 and making six 3-pointers, and Williams 20 with five 3s.
End of the road for state powers
It was the end of the line for numerous state powers in the districts, including Hazel Park, Detroit Cass Tech, Detroit East English, Canton and Grand Blanc in Class A.
U-D Jesuit defeated Hazel Park in a semifinal Wednesday before moving on with a win over Detroit Renaissance in the title game at Renaissance.
King defeated Cass Tech on a last second put-back for a 58-56 overtime win in a semifinal Wednesday, then defeated Western in the title game of the district at Western. Western pulled off an upset of East English and Michigan-bound point guard David DeJulius in a district opener Monday.
Canton lost for the second time to Novi (60-58) in as many weeks to have its season end at 19-2, also losing to Novi 61-56 in the KLAA tournament Feb. 23.
Novi (14-8), which started the season 1-5, defeated rival Northville 74-56 in the title game Friday with Oakland-bound guard Traveon Maddox scoring 22, including five dunks.
Grand Blanc (19-4) – coached by Mike Thomas, who guided Kalamazoo Central to consecutive Class A state titles in 2010-11 – lost to Flint Carman-Ainsworth (21-2) in the district title game at Carman-Ainsworth, 68-66 in OT.
Monday: Regional semifinals
Wednesday: Regional finals
March 20: Quarterfinals
March 22: Semifinals for Class C and D
March 23: Semifinals for Class A and B
March 24: Finals for all classes
Note: All semifinals and finals at Breslin Center in East Lansing.