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BOYS BASKETBALL: Top-ranked Clarkston blows out Flint Carman-Ainsworth to reach state semis

| March 20, 2018 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

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GRAND BLANC —  For the first time this season, Foster Loyer missed three free throws.

From the field, the Mr. Basketball winner shot just 6-for-17 from the floor.

Loyer’s Clarkston teammates more than made up for it.

In a game where the top-ranked Wolves shot just 46.6 percent from the floor (20-for-43), Clarkston’s defense put the clamps down in a 52-31 victory over Flint Carman-Ainsworth in the Class A state quarterfinals at Grand Blanc High School.

“Even though Foster’s shot weren’t falling, he kept taking them because he has confidence in his shot,” said Clarkston coach Dan Fife. “We have lots of shooters and with the way we were playing defense, we were fine.”

The defending state champion Wolves captured their 19th straight win by forcing 15 turnovers and holding Carman-Ainsworth to 34.2 percent shooting (14-for-41) and just 2-for-16 shooting from beyond the three-point arc (12.5 percent).

“Everytime we are in the huddle, we shout family and we play like a family,” offered Loyer. “I think with everyone on this team, we all know our roles and we play so well together. I think that helps us succeed.”

Defensively, Clarkston never allowed the Cavaliers to score more than 10 points in a frame and led by as many as 24 point in the second half (50-26). The Wolves out-rebounded Carman-Ainsworth, 29-25.

“The difference in the game was our defensive rebounding,” said Fife. “We did a good job defensively holding them to one shot. We rebounded so well and I don’t know, but it seems like (Carman-Ainsworth) got down the floor as much this time compared to the last time we played them. They didn’t score a lot in transition.”

Clarkston defeated Flint Carman-Ainsworth 72-67 back on Dec. 7 in the Wolves’ second game of the season.

This time it wasn’t as close.

Clarkston, which is winning by an average of 23 points a game in the state tournament, will play Warren DeLaSalle at 12 noon Friday at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in the state semifinals. DeLaSalle upset Detroit U-D Jesuit 63-58 in another quarterfinal game Tuesday.

Trailing just once at 2-0, Clarkston (24-1) opened with a 16-7 run in the first quarter, closing the frame with a 10-2 blitz. By halftime, the Wolves were in complete control with a 27-12 advantage.

Carman-Ainsworth opened the third quarter with a quick 8-3 spurt to close to within 30-20 with 3:38 to play in the stanza. Clarkston closed the period with a 5-2 run for a 36-22 lead, thanks to a buzzer-beater by Loyer.

The Wolves continued on a 9-2 run to begin the fourth stanza for 45-24 advantage to put the game away. Clarkston outscored the Cavaliers 16-9 in the fourth quarter.

“(Clarkston has) way more patience,” said Carman-Ainsworth coach Jay Witham. “Once we got down, we started to do more one-on-one stuff. Instead of getting some movement on offense, making the right pass and start attacking them we settled for bad shots and the game got away from us. We had 15 turnovers, but a lot of those were just bad passes. And a team like Clarkston will make you pay that.”

The Michigan State-bound Loyer poured in a game-high 19 with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Senior guard CJ Robinson was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor for 12 points to go along with five assists and three steals for the Wolves.

Wisconsin-bound Taylor Currie, a 6-foot-9 senior center, followed with nine points, six rebounds and three assists,

Senior guard Nick Wells had seven points and six boards, while 6-5 senior forward Chase Wasilk contributed six rebounds for Clarkston.

The Wolves reached the state semifinals in back-to-back years for the first time in school history. Clarkston also reached the semis in 2009 under Fife and back in 1980 before Fife became coach.

Clarkston also lost in the quarterfinals 10 times. In 14 trips to the quarterfinals, 13 under Fife, the Wolves have enjoyed better success in the past decade by reaching the Final Four in 2009, 2017 and 2018.

“When we talk about losses, I know I had 34 in a row to end the season before last year,” laughed Fife. “To get to (three Final Fours), I don’t think the kids understand how difficult it really is to get this far. We have been playing with a bullseye on our back the whole year. We’ve talked about if we come and play lazy or don’t play with the same level of intensity, then you’re gunna get beat because every team is going to give you their best shot. They’re a talented team, though, and it seams that they almost always come ready to play.”

Senior guard Lewis Ja’kavien scored eight and 6-4 sophomore forward Dustin Fletcher had eight points and six rebounds for Carman-Ainsworth. Senior guard Duncan O’Mari was held in check with just four points and five rebounds for the Cavaliers.

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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