BY JAKE LOURIM
CLARKSTON — Troy coach Gary Fralick’s postgame message to his team was short and simple: My fault, sorry for not preparing you better. Move on.
After all, only two weeks remain until the district tournament, and the Colts don’t want memories of a 41-point loss hanging around.
Clarkston pulled ahead 18-2 and never let up against visiting Troy in an easy 87-46 OAA Red Division win Monday night, avenging a December loss to the Colts.
Just two months ago, Troy senior Ben Horvath hit a game-winning 3-pointer with nine seconds left to secure a stunning upset of Clarkston. But the Wolves made sure there would be no upsets tonight.
“They just blitzed us,” Fralick said. “We did not come to play and they did. It’s a really simple equation. You’ve got to come to play. I don’t know what happened to us tonight.”
Troy was behind initially 7-2, then called timeout after a 3-pointer with 5:08 left. The Colts missed a shot, gave up another 3 and called timeout again with 4:38 left. Then they turned it over, gave up a layup and called timeout once more only 18 seconds later.
Three minutes and 40 seconds into the game, Clarkston led 15-2 and Troy had used three timeouts. The Wolves extended it with another 3-pointer and then allowed the Colts within 11 before pulling away again.
“They make you play that way,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “They’re running all the time.”
The Clarkston team that took the floor Monday night looked completely different from the one at Troy on Dec. 21. It featured a healthy Jordan Dasuqi, who scored 18 points, a sharpshooting Nick Owens and a general experience that was not fazed by the Colts’ up-tempo style.
Owens finished with 29 points on the strength of seven 3-pointers.
From the outset, Fralick implored his team to push the ball up the floor to offset Clarkston’s discipline in the half court. But the Wolves were always back on defense.
Troy also shot only 2-for-13 from 3-point range while Clarkston bombed away at 11-for-18.
“When we’ve got (6-foot-8 center Mike) Nicholson in there, he changes a lot of shots,” Fife said. “It’s easy to get out on their shooters, because if they penetrate too deep, they run into that guy. We wanted to make them uneasy. We’re not playing H-O-R-S-E here. We can’t give anybody easy shots.”
Clarkston went on another 16-2 run in the second quarter to pull ahead 45-20, and even though Troy moved into a 2-3 zone defense, the Wolves continued to shoot well from the perimeter.
“We just have to get better at what we do best, which is run, run, run,” Fralick said. “We’ve got to make harder cuts and we’ve got to finish better. We’re not going inside, we’re not scoring inside.”
Fralick took the blame himself for the loss but urged his team to come ready to play Friday when the Colts host Utica Ford for only their second home game since Jan. 18.
Troy finishes the regular season with home games against West Bloomfield and Pontiac before the Class A district tournament opens March 4.
(Jake Lourim is a senior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)