Clarkston, Loyer Dazzle at Breslin Again

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 24, 2018

EAST LANSING – Foster Loyer hasn’t enrolled yet at Michigan State University, but it’s safe to say he’s already plenty comfortable on his future school’s basketball court.

A day after torching the Breslin Center nets for 42 points in a Semifinal, Loyer poured in 40 more Saturday to lead Clarkston to an 81-38 win against Holland West Ottawa in the MHSAA Class A championship game.

“To be honest, I think playing in front of this atmosphere and this stage, I think it definitely helped being here last year,” Loyer said. “For me there were no nerves coming in. I thought our team, honestly, when we came in we weren’t bright-eyed or scared of playing in a big place. Having been here that helped me, and coming into the game I had the mindset to attack. I’ve been working on my shot quite a bit, so I was happy a few of them went down.”

It was the second straight title for the Wolves (26-1), who gave longtime coach Dan Fife the first of his storied career a year ago.

“The first one was pretty special for me, but this one here really was special,” Fife said. “From the day we left this building (a year ago) everybody started talking about back-to-back, and I know how hard that is because it took me so long to get the first one. To think that these kids could look up to that, it’s just a tremendous challenge. I can’t say enough about these kids.”

Saturday’s game marked the end of an amazing four-year run for Loyer and his classmates, as the Wolves were 97-6 during the Class of 2018’s tenure. It’s the best four-year run in Fife’s 36 seasons as Clarkston coach.

“These kids have been fun to work with,” Fife said. “I don’t know how it started last year – I’m sure Foster had something to do with it – but we started getting in the huddle and leaving the huddle with ‘Family,’ and these kids are extremely close. They have a good relationship on and off the floor, and I’ve gotta believe that’s going to carry on forever. This kind of moment, back-to-back, is incredible. These kids have played with a bulls-eye for four years, and to continue to play like they have and meet every challenge is really a tremendous success story about who they were as kids, and how they went about business.”

Fittingly, the final shot of Loyer’s career was a 3-pointer to put him at 40 points and tied for the seventh-best scoring performance in an MHSAA Finals game. The 2018 Mr. Basketball winner finished 14 of 19 (73 percent) from the field and 6 of 11 (54 percent) from 3-point range in the game, and was 26 of 36 (72 percent) from the floor on the weekend.

He left the court he’ll play his college basketball on to a standing ovation, and he leaves Clarkston as the program’s all-time leading scorer.

“Foster Loyer is a pretty darn good player,” Holland West Ottawa coach Steve Windemuller said. “To see him in person is really special, because he is a special player. What he did today, it looked it was pretty effortless at times. I wish him all the best at Michigan State. Coach (Tom) Izzo’s got a good one.”

Loyer, who also had seven assists, was far from alone in his hot shooting, as the Wolves were 29 of 49 (59.2 percent) from the field, and 13 of 22 (59.1 percent) from 3. C.J. Robinson scored 18 points, while Taylor Currie had 13 points to go with 10 rebounds.

And it all started quickly, as Clarkston’s first four makes were from 3-point range, helping it to a 19-6 lead after one quarter, and a 49-20 lead at halftime. Holland West Ottawa (25-3), meanwhile, struggled from the jump, shooting 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from the field in the opening quarter.

“Clarkston is really good,” Windemuller said. “If that’s any news to anybody, you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave. They were obviously really, really good today. It’s just one of those things, we get to play them one time, and I’m not sure us playing them 10 times was going to make a difference. Today wasn’t quite the way we wanted to end it, the way we wanted to play, for sure. But congratulations to them; they’re one heck of a team.”

Xavier Wade led West Ottawa with 13 points, while Liam Cavanaugh had 10. It was a rough ending, but the Panthers won’t let that take away from the deepest postseason run in program history.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to be here,” West Ottawa senior Tyler Bosma said. “Obviously it’s not the way we wanted to go out, but I was very lucky to be part of the biggest run in West Ottawa history. I’m very thankful for that. I’m thankful for my teammates, coaches, our students, everybody that came out and supported us today and throughout the whole season. It’s really special to see and to be a part of that.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clarkston’s Foster Loyer drives to the basket during Saturday’s Class A Final. (Middle) The Wolves’ C.J. Robinson works to get past Holland West Ottawa’s Jason Fairfield.  

St. Clair County Celebrates 1st Mr. Basketball Winner, PHN's Jamison

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

March 29, 2023

The Jamison family has spent plenty of time over the years driving long distances as Tyler chased his basketball dreams.

Bay & ThumbAfter the Port Huron Northern senior achieved one of the biggest ones, they had to put some more mileage on the family vehicle.

As the newly-crowned Mr. Basketball, Jamison was invited to a special presentation during the Boys Basketball Finals this past Saturday afternoon at the Breslin Center. It was an invitation Tyler and his family didn’t hesitate to accept, and the drive from Port Huron to East Lansing was nothing.

But it did cause a pretty big change to some other travel plans.

Tyler and his family were scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday for spring break. That flight had to be canceled, though, and instead, the family made the drive down later.

“There were some jokes about just leaving me and letting me find my own way down there,” Jamison said.

While they joke, there’s nowhere the Jamisons would have rather been Saturday than at the Breslin. As a true basketball family – Tyler’s dad Brian is also the coach at Northern, and his brother Alex was a standout freshman for the Huskies – they have a great appreciation for the Mr. Basketball Award and its significance.

“I had said a while ago, ‘Hey, if we’re still in the tournament, we’ll be playing Friday,” Brian Jamison said. “I even mentioned that it would be a miracle, but Tyler could win Mr. Basketball. Now we’re eating plane tickets and driving down to Florida. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re not missing this.”

Jamison was the overwhelming winner of the award, which is named after Hal Schram and given out by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan. He received 3,058 points in the vote to become its 43rd winner. Curtis Williams of Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2,004 points), Kaden Brown of Grand Rapids Catholic Central (1,918), Sonny Wilson of Detroit U-D Jesuit (1,883) and Ryan Hurst of North Farmington (1,811) were the other finalists.

“It was just insane,” Tyler Jamison said. “I can’t even really put into words how I felt – it was just a dream come true, a culmination of all the hard work that’s been put in over the years. My mom was in the other room (when his dad called to tell him), and I just hugged her and we were kind of screaming. The dog was getting riled up. It was fun. There were a few tears shed.”

Jamison throws down a dunk.Jamison, who signed with Fairleigh Dickinson in December, finished the season averaging 26.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game. He was named the Macomb Area Conference White division MVP after leading Northern to the league title and a 20-4 overall record.

Even with all that, winning the most prestigious individual basketball award in the state didn’t seem like a reality.

“We purposely try to play a tough schedule, and we purposely got into some showcases because we wanted people to see, not only him play, but us play,” Brian Jamison said. “We had beaten Skyline and Hamtramck, and went up to Croswell-Lexington and won up there, and I thought, ‘OK, now he’s done it against some of the better teams.’ Up to that point, when we played those tougher teams, he’s always showed out well, but it’s different when you’re not winning them. But at that point, I thought he had a chance. Really, I was just hoping he would get on the list. To win it was kind of above and beyond what I had hoped for.”

On the court, Tyler’s impact on the program was pretty obvious and immediate.

He’s the program’s all-time leading scorer – a record he set as a junior – with 1,763 career points. He also holds Northern records for career rebounds (825), points in a game (59), rebounds in a game (28), career field goals made (638) and career free throws made (439). As a junior, he was named MAC Blue MVP.

Northern did not lose a league game in either of the past two seasons.

But Northern is likely to see future success because of Tyler’s non-statistical impact.

Leading a young team, including a group of star freshmen – his brother Alex, Cam Harju and Amir Morelan – was a major part of Tyler’s job this season.

Northern’s home games were must-see events this winter, as the Huskies were one of Division 1’s top teams, and Tyler was providing nightly highlights and must-see performances. Even in his final game, a loss against Macomb Dakota in the District Final, Jamison treated the standing-room crowd with a 46-point performance and a halfcourt shot at the third-quarter buzzer in a valiant effort.

“That’s the big thing, you want the students and the school community to support you, and they did an amazing job,” Tyler Jamison said. “We also had people from the community that wanted to support us and watch us play. Port Huron High had a really good season, too, and I think both schools in the city had that public support. That’s huge. It makes you feel like you’re playing for more than yourself.”

Among those crowds were the next generation of Huskies, some of whom were coached by Tyler in youth basketball. As he’s the first Mr. Basketball winner from St. Clair County, those kids now have a hometown example of someone who has reached the highest heights.

“I think interest gets sparked when the little kids come to the gym, like, ‘Hey, I want to do that,’” Brian Jamison said. “They want to play for Northern or (Port Huron) High. And with him winning Mr. Basketball, I think it gives kids a little bit of ‘Hey, why not me?’ I do think it helps motivate younger people. We’ve had great crowds at our games. I think the area is excited about basketball. It really is a great basketball area.”

With all of that excitement surrounding him, Tyler had one more challenge after the season – keeping the secret that he had won. He found out six days before the award was announced.

“It was terrible – especially when it’s something of that magnitude,” he said. “You want to tell everyone. You want to tell your friends and family. It was hard to be like, ‘No, I don’t know.’”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tyler Jamison, second from left, with his parents and brother, stands with his newly-received Mr. Basketball Award trophy during the ceremony at the Detroit Free Press. (Middle) Jamison throws down a dunk. (Photos courtesy of the Jamison family.)