East Lansing — Foster Loyer lived up to his Mr. Basketball title Friday afternoon in his future home at Breslin Center, knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer and finishing with 42 points to lift defending Class A state champion Clarkston to a 74-49 victory over Warren De La Salle in a Class A semifinal.
Loyer, a 6-foot point guard who will play for the Spartans next year, scored 17 in the opening quarter, on 5-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers to give Clarkston (25-1) a 23-13 lead.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo watched from the stands.
And to think, Loyer didn’t even know if he would be playing in the postseason after suffering a slight meniscus tear in his left knee during the final week of the regular season. Loyer made 12 of 17 shots, including going 7-of-11 on 3-pointers and making all 11 of his free-throw attempts.
“I think it’s my soon to be home and I’m excited every time I come in here,” Loyer said when asked why he felt he played so well at Breslin after scoring 61 points on 9-of-16 3-point shooting in last year’s Final Four. “I felt my teammates did a great job of setting me up. We executed our game plan, and for us just to come out and move the ball and I happened to make a couple of shots.
“We just came out with the mindset that we were going to attack and control the pace. We threw that first punch early and went on from there.”
Clarkston will play Holland West Ottawa, a 53-50 winner over Novi, in the final at 12:15 Saturday.
Loyer made more than just a couple of shots, a reason his teammates kept getting him the ball.
“When he gets going there’s not a lot of people who can stop him,” Clarkston senior guard C.J. Robinson said of Loyer. “When he knocks them down it opens things up for other people and he’s going to find them.”
Loyer and Robinson both had ice bags on their knees following the game, Loyer’s from his injury a few weeks ago and Robinson from when he tripped and hit the Breslin court in the first half.
Greg Esler, who is in his 24th year as De La Salle’s head coach, had high praise for Loyer.
“I don’t think in 31 years of being a varsity coach that anyone has remotely scored that many points,” Esler said. “I think about when we were here in ’07 Manny Harris had 13 (actually 14 points in Detroit Redford’s 56-50 semifinal win over De La Salle).
“The thing about Loyer is he’s so deceiving. He reminds you of Cassius Winston in the fact he’s not the most athletic guy, he might not be the fastest, but all of a sudden he’s shooting a 25-footer, getting to the rim or making everybody on his team better so there’s no question he’s a winner.
“We started out with a zone, but we were going to mix things up, go with the run and jump trap, just change things up, but when you miss layups and don’t rebound, that just kills you.”
Simply put, Loyer put on a show, making his long bombs from everywhere on the court, including a 25-footer while off balance as time expired to end the first quarter. Loyer wasn’t done there, making another 3-pointer from the top of the key to open up a 39-20 cushion late in the half, at the time outscoring De La Salle (19-8) by himself, 24-20.
Loyer was 8-of-13 shooting in the opening half, and 6-of-10 on 3-pointers.
The lone scare to Clarkston’s fans was when Loyer picked up his first foul with 4:07 left in the opening quarter, then his second while holding a player while De La Salle was trying to inbound the ball. He didn’t pick up his third until 5:46 left in the fourth with his team holding a 64-46 lead.
De La Salle came out with tremendous energy, displayed by Luke Pfromm’s block of 6-9 Taylor Currie’s inside shot just seconds into the game. But De La Salle failed to convert inside shots, missing five layups in the opening quarter alone, one by Easton Sikorski in transition which was followed by Loyer’s fourth 3-pointer to open up an 18-8 Clarkston lead with 1:40 left in the first.
Clarkston was also dominant on the glass, holding a 23-13 rebounding edge at halftime and 36-19 for the game,.
Loyer continued his impressive play in the early minutes of the second half, including a 25-footer from just in front of his bench to open up a 20-point (46-26) lead, at the time outscoring De La Salle by himself, by a 29-26 margin.
“It was a good win,” said Clarkston head coach Dan Fife, who earned his 700th career win earlier this month. “I thought we did a good job of rebounding, getting to loose balls which is always important to us, and defending.”
Clarkston shot 53.2 percent from the field, and made 8 of 14 3-pointers. Currie had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) for Clarkston.
Pfromm scored 17 for De La Salle after scoring three in the first half. Jordan Winowiecki had 12 points and Kole Gjonaj 10.
All games at Breslin Center
Clarkston 74, Warren De La Salle 49
Holland West Ottawa 53, Novi 50
Final: 12:15, Saturday
Benton Harbor 60, River Rouge 49
Grand Rapids CC 69, New Haven 53
Final: 6:45, Saturday
Detroit Edison 55, GR Covenant Christian 43
Maple City Glen Lake 62, Monroe St. Mary CC 56
Final: 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Southfield Christian 71, Dollar Bay 32
Buckley 65, Hillsdale Academy 55
Final: 10 a.m., Saturday