Posted On: 01/30/18 11:03 PM
In a battle of the state’s top two teams, Clarkston was able to put together a dominating performance, cruising to a 70-39 victory over Hazel Park. Foster Loyer, Taylor Currie and CJ Robinson were unstoppable for Clarkston, as the trio combined for 65 points and 28 rebounds. Khari Adams paced the Vikings with 14 points, but poor outside shooting and the inability to defend the paint was too much to overcome.
“Coming into the night, we knew the atmosphere was going to be loud, it was going to be exciting,” Loyer said. “That’s the game’s where we really strap it on and get it going. Tonight we just came out and set the tempo and played our game.”
This game pitted the state’s two best teams against one another, but Clarkston came out and dominated from start to finish. This game was close for about six minutes, but after that, it was all Clarkston. The Wolves went on a 20-0 run to extend their lead to 31-6 with just over four minutes left in the first half. And let’s not forget, Clarkston is dismantling teams without 6-foot-8 big man Thomas Kithier. He’s was ruled ineligible, due to the MHSAA finding his transfer athletically motivated. Despite not having the highly touted big man, Clarkston was able to outrebound the Vikings 31-22. Clarkston is now 12-1 this season with their only loss coming to East English Village Prep, who is one of the best teams in the state. Class A is loaded with talent, but Clarkston proved they are the best team in the state.
“To be honest, I didn’t know it was a 20-0 run. I was just watching us play,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “A 20-0 run, that’s always good. That means we’re defending well and coming down and running good offense.”
Both of these guys are Big Ten signees, and they showed why Tuesday night. Loyer (Michigan State) poured in 34 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Currie (Wisconsin) dropped 18 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked five shots. Loyer got off to a a slow start, but found a rhythm after Hazel Park’s student section started showering him with “overrated” chants. Currie also received some overrated chants from the crowd, but didn’t let that affect him, as he dominated from start to finish. Loyer is ranked as Prep Hoops’ No. 4 prospect in the state of Michigan for the class of 2018 and Currie is No. 10. These guys are a nightmare for opponents, and the duo could lead Clarkston to another state title.
“My teammates have been doing a great job of getting me open. The last couple of teams have been guarding CJ (Robinson) and Foster (Loyer) really hard, so that’s created a lot of opportunities for myself,” Currie said.
On a night where not much went right for Hazel Park, Adams was able to put together a solid performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Six of those 14 points came via the dunk, and let me tell you, those dunks were vicious. Adams is an absolute freak athletically. He played above the rim throughout the night, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and finishing around the rim. I really like his game, and I think he has what it takes to play at the next level. However, to make an impact in the college game, he will need to improve his outside shot.
I’ve seen some great defensive teams this season, including River Rouge and Belleville, but Clarkston put on a defensive clinic Tuesday night. They play great overall team defense. They didn’t force a ton of turnovers, but the Wolves’ on ball defense was incredible. Every time the Vikings tried to penetrate, help defense was there. One player that might get overlooked because he doesn’t fill the stat sheet is Nick Wells. However, he’s one of the best on ball defenders I’ve seen this year. Wells was locking down Hazel Park’s guards all night long, and his effort on defense shouldn’t be overlooked. Clarkston’s offensive firepower paired with great team defense is a scary combination.
“God, that’s got to be the best defense I’ve seen all year,” Hazel Park coach Brandon Barrett said. “They did a really good job on D. That was the best D we’ve seen all year.”
This kid flies under the radar a little bit because Loyer and Currie are so talented. However, he plays a huge role for this team. Against Hazel Park, Robinson was able to pour in 13 points and grab five rebounds. For the third scoring option, those stats are pretty darn good. He’s ranked as Prep Hoops’ No. 45 overall prospect in the state of Michigan for the class of 2018, but if he was the focal point of the offense, he’d be higher. He’s a capable scorer that impacts the game in a variety of ways. He see’s the entire floor, rebounds really well for a guard and defends at a very high level. His game reminds me of Kris Dunn. He’s not the first scoring option, but he makes his teammates better and isn’t afraid to battle for rebounds down low. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this kid playing Division 1 basketball next year.
“I for the life of me can’t understand why all the Division II schools aren’t in here knocking his (CJ Robinson) door down, because he’s definitely Division II and maybe even Division I at some level,” Fife said. “He does so many things. He can guard, he can jump, he can shoot it and he can defend. More importantly, he’s got a big heart.”