In Play with Tom Markowski

Loyer scores 33 as Clarkston survives a challenge from Wayne Memorial, 73-68

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

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Clarkston – Its likely Foster Loyer of Clarkston will be placed in the situation he was confronted with on Monday many more times in his career.

The top-ranked Wolves were pushed to the limit by a formidable opponent, unranked Wayne Memorial, and Loyer took over the game in the fourth quarter.

Loyer scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth and Clarkston (14-0) prevailed, 73-68, in a nonleague game at Clarkston.

It’s the first time this season a team has come within 10 points of Clarkston.

Although the Wolves never trailed after sophomore Taylor Currie’s basket gave Clarkston a 20-19 lead with 6:13 left in the first half, the Wolves could never put away the pesky Zebras.

Twice Clarkston led by 10 points in the third before Wayne (11-3) went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 54-51 with 7:17 remaining.

Twice Wayne got within a point in the fourth. Keion Epps’ steal and subsequent dunk brought Wayne to within 56-55 with 6:26 left. Loyer made four consecutive free throws and Clarkston regained its five-point lead.

Napier Bryant’s basket and two free throws by Isaiah Lewis again brought the Zebras to within a point.

Then it was Loyer’s turn. Loyer made sure the ball was in his hands in the final three minutes as he made a 3-pointer, a layup in the half court then eight free throws in the final 1:22 to put the game out of reach.

Loyer, a point guard who committed to Michigan State, made all 19 of his free throw attempts and added four rebounds. He scored his team’s final 17 points.

“Free-throw shooting is a weapon,” he said. “Two late in the game are just as important as layup. They scored at will on us in the second half. We have to fix that.”

Dylan Alderson, who signed with Wisconsin-Milwaukee, scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half to help Clarkston build a 35-31 lead. His four 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the second half were instrumental in Clarkston taking a double-digit lead.

But then Epps, a 6-6 forward who signed with Eastern Michigan, went to work inside for Wayne. Held to one point in the first quarter, Epps had six points during a 2-minute stretch in the third and his dunk early in the fourth gave his team a lift. But Epps missed three consecutive free throws after that dunk and, although Wayne was 14-of-19 from the line, those misses were ill-timed.

“We played a good game,” Wayne coach Nkwane Young said. “The difference was they made their free throws and we didn’t.

“This was a good game for us. They’re a good team. They’re real good. But I didn’t tell my team about moral victories. We’re getting better. Our execution is better.”

Epps had 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Rashad Williams added 15 points.

Wayne held a 32-24 edge in rebounds and its physical style played a big part in the keeping Clarkston from pulling away.

“It was a good game for us,” Clarkston coach Dane Fife said. “I didn’t think we played particularly well. Epps is very physical. (Currie) was getting pushed around and I had to bring in (Stewart) Newblatt. Newblatt plays physical. Not many will push him around. He enjoys contact.

“Teams are showing us different things. The way they guard Foster. The way we run our sets. We’re playing eight-to-nine kids now. My assistants convinced me of that.”