Posted On: 02/20/18 9:45 AM
After a tight game earlier in the season, the rematch between Troy and Clarkston game would be a barometer of sorts for an up and coming Troy team in hostile environment against a top team in the State. The second edition lived up to the hype and then some.
The first quarter was very much a chess match, with both teams feeling each other out and a methodical pace that lead to an 11-8 Clarkston advantage after 1. The momentum swung in favor of Clarkston once Danny Sully picked up his second foul midway through the 2nd quarter. With their big man on the bench, Troy wasn’t able to control the defensive glass and Clarkston took advantage with Taylor Currie grabbing multiple offensive boards on his way to 8 points and 6 rebounds to give Clarkston a 26-17 advantage heading into halftime. Foster Loyer took over to start the third quarter, hitting back to back circus shot layups and a few stepback jumpers to give the Wolves some cushion and a 36-27 lead entering the final period. Midway through the 4th quarter it was obvious Troy was struggling to get clean looks via their standard half-court sets so they turned to guard Leon Ayers. The 6’4 senior went on a scoring binge, knocking down multiple perimeter shots off the dribble and penetrating the Clarkston defense before dropping assists to teammates once help D arrived to cut the deficit to 5 with three minutes remaining. In the end though, a few costly turnovers by Troy would allow Clarkston to walk away with a hard earned victory in a close game.
Here are five items that stick out in the aftermath:
A lot of the chatter surrounding Foster is focused on what type of player he’ll be at the next level, with questions of whether his size and athleticism will translate. While I don’t think anyone knows exactly what type of player Loyer will be with the Spartans, what I do know is that he’s one of the very best high school players to come out of Michigan in the past decade. The Clarkston floor general only solidified that against Troy, dropping 30 points and making crucial plays during the second half. Foster started the first half off relatively quiet (by his lofty standards, anyway), content to get his teammates involved with ten points after the first 2 quarters as his Wolves took a lead into intermission. The third quarter was a different story, with Troy making a push Loyer finished an array of up and under circus layups with his left hand, buried a few stepback jumpers off the bounce and added a steal and subseqeuent layup to push the Clarkston lead to near 15 heading into the final quarter. Foster has an uncanny ability to be one step ahead of the opposition on nearly every possession, his poise is well beyond his years. His basketball IQ is among the best I’ve ever witnessed at the High School level and he has an impeccable skill level to compliment it.
Leon put on quite the show during the 4th quarter, putting his Troy squad on his back and nearly willing them to a comeback victory on the road against the defending state champs. Ayers was absolutely phenomenal in isolation as a scorer, as he was able to get defenders backpedalling before raising up and knocking down perimeter shots from both distance and midrange. As a playmaker, Leon got into the paint before finding his teammates on dumpoffs once the Clarkston help defense arrived both in the half court and in transition. At a legit 6’4 with a nice wingspan, Ayers has good physical tools and a nice skillset to be an effective two-way wing at the next level. While he’s a bit under the radar right now, once Leon adds muscle mass to help him absorb contact he has an extremely high ceiling with a diverse skillset and great size for a perimeter player.
Clarkston is a great team, top five in the state with a legit chance to repeat as Class A champs this year so you won’t find many that feel sorry for Dan Fife and crew. That said, you can’t help but to assume the addition of Thomas Kithier could’ve made this squad a top 25 team nationally with a strong chance to go undefeated. The athletic 6’8 big would’ve added elite rim protection, rebounding, defensive versatility and post-scoring to compliment Taylor Currie’s outside shooting touch and soft hands. That hypothetical combination of perimeter scoring, size, offensive and defensive versatility would’ve been impossible for any team in Michigan to compete with, let alone win. Rules are rules, but the MHSAA really needs to progress its thinking moving forward……………as it appears enforcement of the transfer rule is done on a selective basis rather than being applied across the board. In the end the only goal accomplished was a senior basketball player watching from the sidelines as we all wonder how good Clarkston could’ve been .
I’ve watched Sebastian on three occasions this season and the words that come to mind are solid and steady. Clay is southpaw junior PG with a plus stroke from distance off the catch that is extremely solid with the ball and runs the offense without turning the ball over. He also thrives in transition where he pushes the ball ahead with purpose and speed and finished at a good clip. Defensively, Clay is a good on-ball defender that moves his feet and does a good job of staying between his man and the basket. With a solid frame as a junior and pushing 6’1, Sebastian has good size and should be a prospect that NAIA/JUCO level programs look at.
I absolutely love what Chase brings to the table for Clarkston. The 6’3 forward doesn’t do much in the way of scoring, but boy does he have a huge impact on the other side of the court. Waslik can guard up to 4 different positions for any given game. His defensive versatility is a big component of a stingy Clarkston defense, as he allows Coach Dan Fife lineup flexibility. Chase is mobile enough to switch on guards and hedge aggressively while having enough size and athleticism to defend the post and rebound. What I admire the most about the senior is his relentless motor, as he goes 100% on every play and maximizes his physical abilities. Simply put, Waslik is a player that can be trusted to make winning plays during big moments and that exceeds any point value in my book. If Clarkston is going to defend its Class A championship successfully, you better believe Chase is going to play a huge part.