BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — It was a year ago when Clarkston saw its string of 19 straight district titles in boys basketball come to an end. Playing in one of the state’s top Class A districts this season, the Wolves are trying to make for last season’s disappearing act.
Clarkston passed its first test Monday by beating neighboring rival and district host Lake Orion, 54-43, in the district opener. The Wolves, who dropped a double-overtime thriller to Fenton last season in the district finals, are not taking any team lightly.
“I’d be scared if I was playing fifth graders in my McGrath League,” said veteran Clarkston coach Dan Fife. “I don’t look past anybody, honestly. I’m a worrier. I don’t know about our kids though. It’s kind of hard to convince them. But I think the first game of districts is tough no matter what. It’s one and done.”
Clarkston led for most of the game against Lake Orion. With the game tied at 31-31 with 3:35 left in the third quarter, the Wolves (18-3) ventured on a 7-2 run to close the third frame for a 38-33 advantage, then opened the fourth quarter with another 5-0 run for a 43-33 lead.
The Dragons (12-9), who shared the OAA Blue Division this season with Bloomfield Hills Lahser, were able to close the gap down to 43-37 with 5:43 to play, but that was as close Lake Orion could get down the stretch.
Clarkston finished with and 11-6 run to put an end to the Dragons’ season.
“We knew this was going to be a tough district and we want to make up for last season,” said Clarkston senior guard Jordan Dasuqi. “There are a lot of good teams in this district. Lake Orion had a good year, Romeo is a good team and Rochester Adams is undefeated and has had an amazing year. We know we have to go out and play a good game in order to win (games in this district).”
Lake Orion made a surprise run to the state quarterfinals last season, the farthest run in school history. This year’s team was shown the first-round exit by the OAA Red Division champion Wolves, who have won 10 league titles in the past 11 years.
“Everybody remembers our great run last season, son this is very disappointing. We knew that this was going to be a very difficult district,” said Lake Orion coach Tom Risi. “You have to play better against a team like Clarkston and we didn’t make shots. The final month of the season we struggled shooting the basketball and it cost us some games. We missed a lot of layups and putbacks again tonight, shots that might have made a difference.”
Lake Orion (12-9) finished the night only 12-for-51 shooting from the floor (26.3 percent), although the Dragons kept it close by converting 17-of-28 free throws (60.1 percent).
Senior guard Chaz Miller bowed out with 14 points and eight rebounds for Lake Orion. Junior forward John McCarty added nine points and 13 rebounds and junior forward David Henry chipped in with 11 points for the Dragons.
Clarkston led 17-8 after the first quarter, only to see Lake Orion claw back with a 14-8 second quarter and bring the deficit down to 25-22 at the half.
Dasuqi scored 21 points with seven rebounds for Clarkston. Senior Dylan Hancook added 12 points and 11 rebounds, sophomore guard Nick Owens chipped in with 10 points and 6-foot-8 junior Mike Nicholson followed with seven points, four rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists from the post for the Wolves.
Clarkston was sharp from the field, making 51.3 percent of its shots from the floor (20-for-39).The Wolves only made 10-of-21 free throws (47.7 percent)
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