Cagers clinch spot in Final Four

Cagers clinch spot in Final Four

Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball wins the MHSAA Regional crown to move on to the Elite Eight, March 15. Photo by Larry Wright

BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
It’s the battle of the OAA Red as the Wolves face West Bloomfield for the third time this season with the stage set at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center this Friday at 1 p.m. after both made it into the Final Four.
“They played us tough,” said Dan Fife, long-time head coach for Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball, about the Wolves’ previous wins over the Lakers. “We expect a tough game and our kids have to look at it like anybody else. We have to come out hard and compete. So much of athletics is your mind, your mindset and how you prepare yourself mentally.”
Davison High School was filled with celebration as the Wolves defeated Saginaw 70-50 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Quarterfinals on Tuesday for their second trip in Clarkston history to the Final Four.
“Winning this game is a dream come true for the kids,” said Fife. “It’s a good experience for me to be involved. My assistant coaches did a great job with the preparation and getting everything put together for us. Our kids ran pretty well.”
He added it was a big win especially in a game he expected for a “hard, fought, intense game.”
The Trojans opened the game with two points and junior CJ Robinson met it with his own two points, followed by six points from junior Foster Loyer and senior Dylan Alderson.
Clarkston widened the gap posting 12 more points and before the quarter closed Saginaw scored on a 3-pointer to end the stanza, 18-12.
The Wolves continued to add points to the board from the duo of Alderson and Loyer and closed the first half with a basket from junior Nick Wells before Saginaw’s RonQuavious Southward scored a 3-pointer at the buzzer, 35-19.
The boys earned their trip to quarterfinals with a 56-36 win over Stoney Creek.
The boys have won the quarterfinal round twice to go to the semifinals in 1980 and 2009.
“I am proud of the opportunity we get to go,” smiled Fife. “Let’s give it our best effort. It isn’t easy. It seems like so many things have happened to us in the quarterfinals. Luck doesn’t just happen. We will prepare like we always do. If we get to Breslin, fine. If we don’t, it won’t be from lack of effort on anybody’s part.”
“It was what you call an ugly win,” Fife said after the win over Stoney Creek. “I didn’t think we played our best floor game. I am happy with the win because last year this time we got beat at the buzzer. I have lost a million buzzer beaters and heartbreakers so this was a good win regardless of how we looked or how we played. Hopefully we learned from it.”
Sophomore Taylor Currie opened the game with the first two points followed by another basket from junior CJ Robinson.
Stoney Creek’s Tanner Dean tried to slow the Wolves down with his 3-point shot but it hit the rim.
Moments later junior Foster Loyer widened the gap by two points from the free throw line.
Stoney Creek’s next two scoring attempts tied the score at five with a basket from John Carson and a field goal from Michael Meleragni.
“I was up last night thinking that team was going to give us fits,” said Fife. “We played them four years ago in a district final and we had the same problems because they move the ball so well. They run their steps well and they are well-coached.”
Loyer broke the tie at the 4-minute mark with a 3-pointer. Currie followed catching the Cougars’ rebound and scoring a basket.
The Wolves added seven more points before the quarter closed with baskets from Robinson and Loyer and a 3-pointer from Alderson, 17-9.
Alderson scored six points to open the next stanza. Loyer was next to help the Wolves as he scored a field goal off a pass from Alderson.
The duo continued to lead the team as Alderson scored five more points and Loyer finished the first half with one more point from the line, 32-17.
“We made a lot of mistakes in our offense,” said Fife. “We turned the ball over a lot which I don’t think we did at all against (Macomb) Dakota. Our defense was good especially with those kind of points. Usually when you don’t play well, you don’t guard well. In some ways I am pretty happy with the way we guarded. We still beat them by 20 – that’s a good win.”
Alderson led the team with 29 points and scored four 3-pointers.
“Dylan shot the ball pretty well,” said Fife.
Loyer scored 14 points and had three field goals and Robinson had nine points with one 3-pointer.
“We just have to realize the ball is pretty important,” Fife said going into quarterfinals. “You work to get it, so take care of it.”
The MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals for Class A are on Friday at 1 p.m. and the finals are at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Both games are played at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing.