Performance: Clarkston's Foster Loyer
February 5, 2017
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.)
Hart Teammates Reunite After 80 Years Now as WWII Vets, Great-Grandfathers
By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com
June 7, 2023
Walter “Stretch” Hansen and Harold Tate were good friends and high school basketball and baseball teammates at Hart High School, graduating in 1943.
No one could have guessed that less than two months after graduation (on July 2, 1943), the two friends would head to Fort Custer in Battle Creek, the first stop on their way overseas to fight for their country in World War II.
No one could have imagined how many twists and turns their lives would take over the next 80 years – from the battlefields in the South Pacific, then back to West Michigan where they both were married with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now Harold even has a great-great-grandchild.
And, certainly, no one would have believed that the two young boys from Hart – who forged a friendship through high school sports long before the days of computers, microwave ovens and cell phones – would still be alive at the age of 98 for an emotional reunion last month, on May 22, seeing each other for the first time in 80 years and, to cap it off, the reunion took place in their hometown of Hart.
“It was such a great day,” Hansen said about the meeting, which was set up by Muskegon-area World War II historian Richard Mullally.
“We picked right up, talking about sports and the service and everything else.”
The conversation came easy for the two old friends, who played for Hart during a “golden era” at the school – particularly in basketball, as the Pirates won 11 West Michigan Conference basketball titles between 1940 and 1954.
Perhaps the best team during that time period was Hansen and Tate’s as seniors in 1943. That team lost only once, to rival Scottville (31-25), but more than made up for it with an 80-10 trouncing of the Spartans in the final regular-season game.
Hart then crushed Scottville and Newaygo to win the District championship, only to have Michigan’s prep basketball season stopped abruptly at that point because of World War II.
That 1943 team featured four starters over 6-0, led by the duo of Hansen and Stan Kapulak (both 6-6), Joe Mack (6-2), Lyle Burmeister (6-1) and Stanley Riley (the lone starter under 6-foot at 5-11).
“The newspapers called us ‘The Hart Skyscrapers,’” said Hansen, who will be 99 on Nov. 6. “We were taller than most college teams at that time.”
Hansen and Tate’s friendship continued to blossom on the baseball field, only to have their lives turned upside down shortly after graduation 80 years ago, when all Hart senior boys who had been drafted headed to Battle Creek as a brief staging area on their way to the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.
Hansen served in the Army Specialized Training Program and was part of the 52nd Signal Battalion and the 4025th Signal Battalion in the Pacific Theater.
“I had an all-expense paid tour of the South Pacific,” Hansen said with a chuckle. “The Philippines, New Guinea, Okinawa, Hawaii, all over the place.”
Tate did his service in the 24th Infantry Division and the 19th Infantry Regiment, and was stationed in Japan.
During their visit last month, Harold showed off the Japanese Samurai sword and Arisaka rifle which he had sent back from Japan to Hart. The week after their visit, both took part in Memorial Day parades – Hansen in the Lakeside parade in Muskegon and Tate in his 77th Memorial Day service in Hart.
Hansen, who still has a home on a small lake in Holton and lives at a senior care facility in Muskegon, played many years of semi-pro basketball and did some coaching. He worked at GTE and has five children and 10 grandchildren.
“I have been so blessed,” Hansen said, sorting through one of his many scrapbooks. “All five of my kids are great and I have grandkids that are just amazing, everything they are doing. I don’t even know all of their names, but it’s sure been fun watching them.”
Tate returned to Hart after his military service and has been there ever since, at first working as a carpenter with his father and then becoming a rural mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring 26 years ago at the age of 72. He has lived in the same home for 75 years and has three children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandkids and now one great-great-grandchild.
Tate laments the demise of his beloved American Legion post in Hart, a town with just over 2,000 residents, as the number of members has steadily declined.
One topic that brings a smile to both of their faces is the recent resurgence of the Hart High School athletic program, which drew media attention not too many years ago for all the wrong reasons – notably a football program which went 24 years without a winning record.
That string was snapped with a 6-3 mark and the school’s first earned playoff appearance last fall.
But that was just the start.
This winter, Hart’s boys basketball team finished the regular season 22-0, the girls basketball team made it to the Division 3 Semifinals at the Breslin Center, wrestling qualified for the Team Finals for the fourth-straight year and competitive cheer placed fourth in Division 4. This spring, the Hart girls track & field team won its second-straight Division 3 Finals team title, and the boys placed fourth.
“It’s a great place to call home, a great place to live, always has been,” said Hansen of his hometown, which got its name from its central position in the “heart” of Oceana County.
And who would have imagined that these two high school teammates could still come home again for a reunion at the age of 98?
Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Members of the 1943 Hart High School varsity baseball team gather together, preparing for a team photo. Among those are Harold Gayle Tate (far left) and Walter "Stretch" Hansen, at 6-6 the tallest player in the back row. (Middle) Hansen, left, and Tate reunite for the first time in 80 years on Monday, May 22, 2023, in their hometown of Hart. (Below) Hansen served from 1943 to 1946 as a Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Tate served from 1945 to 1946 as a Platoon Sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. (Top photo courtesy of Stretch Hansen. Middle and below photos courtesy of Richard Mullally.)