Clarkston junior – Basketball
The Wolves’ junior point guard has been making good on high expectations since entering high school, and in one way he didn’t miss for nearly a year. Starting with last season’s regular-season finale against West Bloomfield, Loyer put together an MHSAA record streak of 119 straight made free throws to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” for Jan. 23-29.
Loyer’s streak came to an end when he missed his first free throw in a 59-39 win over North Farmington on Jan. 24. His record surpassed by 17 the former milestone set by Frankenmuth’s Brad Redford during the 2007-08 season and will rank second in the national record book when submitted after this season. Loyer joined the Clarkston varsity as a highly-touted freshmen two years ago and this winter has led the Wolves to a 13-0 start averaging 25.2 points, six assists and 4.4 rebounds per game, making 44 percent of his 3-point attempts and 95.6 percent of his tries from the free throw line.
Some of the high expectations for Loyer rise from legacy; his dad John has been an assistant for four NBA teams including the Detroit Pistons, whom he led as interim head coach at the end of the 2013-14 season. Foster also has learned under the tutelage of longtime Clarkston coach Dan Fife, who took over the program in 1983 and is the fourth-winningest in MHSAA boys hoops history. Loyer – who also played baseball for a season at Clarkston – has committed to sign this fall with Michigan State University. A strong student as well, he’s looking to study business management with an eye on working in sports once his playing days are done. But first, he’ll try to lead Clarkston its first MHSAA championship after the team fell in overtime in a Class A Regional Semifinal last season to eventual semifinalist Macomb Dakota, and also by two in 2015 in a Quarterfinal to Detroit U-D Jesuit.
Coach Dan Fife said: “He shoots every day, and when he shoots, he shoots with a purpose. He’s a hard worker, he puts a lot of time in, and all the time he puts in really shows in the way he plays. … His court IQ is just incredible. He sees the game ahead of time. He has a great floor sense, where people are. As a freshman he was the same way, and one of the bigger things is when he gets upset, he doesn’t show a lot of anger when he makes a mistake. Mistakes don’t lead to two mistakes with him. He doesn’t get caught up in that stuff, he doesn’t get caught up in who he is; he just keeps his focus. And as good a player as he is, he’s just as good a kid. In the hallways, you wouldn’t know (he’s a basketball standout); he doesn’t walk like that. He’s just one of the kids.”
Performance Point: “Going into this year, I knew I’d made a bunch in a row but I had no idea what number I was at,” Loyer said of his free throws. “I didn’t pay much attention, but I think when I passed 100 some of my teammates started messing with me, letting me hear it when I missed one in practice. … I approach every free throw the same, and when the shot (that broke the streak) left my hand, I had no thought going through my mind that it wasn’t going to go in. It rolled in and out pretty bad, and when it came off the front of the rim, the thought definitely went through my head and I heard the rest of the crowd knew about it. They took a loud gasp, and that’s pretty much how I felt about it. I was definitely disappointed, but when something like that comes to an end, you move on and go on to the next play.”
Part of the arsenal: “I would consider free throw shooting a serious weapon, especially being the point guard in an end-of-game situation. At the end of the game, being able to hit free throws, especially in high school where there’s no shot clock, the game is over in my mind. I’m confident in myself and my teammates to be able to go and knock free throws down. Just being in the gym every day, it’s something you practice every day, day in and day out. It’s called a free throw for a reason; in my mind, you’re supposed to make them.”
Thanks Dad: “If we’re watching film or being in the gym every day, my dad has been a positive influence in my life and basketball career. Just being able to take the things he says, and build off of them to make myself a better player. Every time we watch film, normally you should look not only at what you did right but also what you did wrong and can improve on. That’s been the biggest part of the game my dad has helped me improve.”
Win one for Coach: “(A Class A title) would mean the world to us guys as players, as a team, with the brotherhood we’ve built. But not only that, it would mean the world for us to win Coach Fife that state championship. Coach Fife doesn’t talk much about how much that means to him, but he’s had some difficult losses, and I think in the back of our minds it would solidify his legacy, solidify our legacy as a team, that we came in here and made our mark.”
Leading the way: “Day in and day out at practice, I pride myself in doing so, bringing leadership to the team, making sure guys are working as hard as they should be. As a leader and a point guard on a basketball team, you have to push guys not only to do what they should be doing, but it’s more than that. Going into March, we had a lot of guys in the locker room after (last season’s Regional loss), and we have a lot of guys who know what that feeling is like, and that’s a feeling we never want to go through again.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball – Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball – Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Clarkston's Foster Loyer brings the ball upcourt during a game this season. (Middle) Loyer attempts a free throw; he recently capped an MHSAA record streak of 119 straight makes. (Photos by Larry Wright/WrightActionPix.com.)
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
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PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click by Christine McCallister.)