Michigan State’s Breslin Center has had its fair share of big moments over the years, and even in the high school realm it has yielded strong matchups. After Friday’s Class A semifinal results, we have the makings of another epic battle, this time of future Spartans, on tap for Saturday afternoon.
In the first semifinal in Class A, Clarkston led wire-to-wire in a dominating 78-35 effort over West Bloomfield. Junior guard Foster Loyer, playing in his future collegiate home and with some of his future teammates in attendance, showed all facets of his game in an impressive manner. A player who has drawn comparisons to Scott Skiles, Loyer nearly scored as many points as his opposition on Friday afternoon. His thirty-two point performance was a combination of quick drives, mid-range jump shots, and deep three-point baskets. He was an efficient ten of seventeen from the floor, including five of eight from beyond the arc, and he also was a perfect seven for seven from the free throw line. A tremendous passer, Loyer also added seven assists and committed zero turnovers.
Loyer was not the only dominating force for Coach Dan Fife and the Wolves, as senior Dylan Alderson was nine for sixteen from the floor with twenty-seven points. Forward Taylor Currie was in control of the glass all afternoon, collecting sixteen rebounds to go along with his ten points.
The Wolves led by eleven after the first frame, and their lead just continually increased. Not to be lost in defeat was an impressive effort by West Bloomfield’s Kevin McAdoo, who scored 22 points. As a result of their victory, Clarkston will reach play on championship Saturday for the first time ever.
Following that contest, Grand Rapids Christian took on Romulus for the final semifinal spot. In a battle of the Eagles, the two schools went back and forth in the first half. Thanks to six made three-pointers, Romulus took a 28-27 lead into the locker room.
In the second half however, Grand Rapids Christian stepped up the defense as a collective unit, and this propelled them into Saturday’s Championship game. The Eagles held Romulus to just two of nine shooting from deep in the second half, and their offense reaped the benefits. The long rebounds led to transition baskets, and Grand Rapids Christian took advantage. James Beck had multiple finishes at the rim in the second half on his way to 24 points. When Romulus got back, it set up Duane Washington Jr. (fifteen points) and Thad Shymanski (ten points), to carry the load in a 55% shooting half from deep.
Though he was not overly present in the scoring column, senior Xavier Tillman contributed in countless other fashions. He ended the contest with five points, six assists, seven blocks and eight rebounds. His ability to make key contributions without scoring an excessive amount was huge in the Eagles pulling away to a 74-52 win.
FINALS OUTLOOK: Folks, this is going to be an epic battle in the Class A State Championship game. We have 27-0 Grand Rapids Christian, who has played a plethora of opponents all year long to test themselves as a program. On the other side, we have 26-1 Clarkston, who also has a handful of resume wins throughout the season.
There are three key matchups that will determine the winner of this battle. In the backcourt, Grand Rapids Christian’s Duane Washington and Clarkston’s Foster Loyer will have their hands full attempting to stop each other. Loyer will enter this contest averaging 25.4 points per game, while Washington is averaging just under twelve.
In a two-headed approach in the front court, we have the battle of future Horizon League foes in Dylan Alderson (Milwaukee) and Christian’s James Beck (Oakland). These two both have the ability to score and take over a game, but they can do it in different ways. Alderson has the ability to stretch his shooting, he was two of six from deep today, where Beck is more commonly found down low and in transition. Also, Xavier Tillman will spend the afternoon battling against Taylor Currie, who dominated the glass in the first semifinal today with sixteen rebounds. If Clarkston’s big men can find a way to slow down what has been a nearly unstoppable monster in Beck and Tillman, they will have a chance to win this contest. Otherwise, the Eagles will be crowned champions on Saturday.
If you can’t make it to the Breslin Center tomorrow, tune into MSR where Dave and Dave, the best same name combo in the game, will be on the call. The pregame show starts at 11:30, and will be on air until the beginning of the contest, set for 12:00 PM.