EAST LANSING — Foster Loyer thrives in the spotlight.
The Clarkston junior guard and Michigan State commit proved it yet again, leading the Wolves to a dominant 78-35 win over Oakland County rival West Bloomfield in Friday’s Class A semifinal at the Breslin Center.
With Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sitting courtside, Loyer exploded for 32 points, seven assists and three steals for the Wolves (26-1), who moved within one victory of the program’s first boys basketball state championship.
An estimated crowd of 9,000 filled the Breslin Center for Clarkston’s win.
“I love this type of environment,” said the 6-foot, 165-pound Loyer. “I love playing in front of big crowds, and I don’t get nervous because it’s just basketball. We work our butts off for these moments. I was very confident in myself, and we were able to get the job done.”
The Wolves, who made their only other state semifinal appearance in 2009, face top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian (27-0) in the Class A final at noon Saturday in East Lansing.
Grand Rapids Christian is led by senior forward and Michigan State signee Xavier Tillman, a former AAU teammate of Loyer’s. Tillman finished with five points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and six assists in the Eagles’ 74-52 win over Romulus in the other semifinal.
“We haven’t talked a whole lot about playing each other,” Loyer said. “I know Xavier real well. We’re excited to get out there and compete.”
Loyer had 12 first-quarter points against West Bloomfield as his team raced to a 24-13 advantage. He finished 10 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 8 from three-point range. He made all seven of his free throw attempts.
“You game plan, but it’s never to stop him; it’s more to limit him,” West Bloomfield coach Jeremy Denha said. “Loyer does everything exceptional. Everything is very, very good, and that makes him a great high school player. When he gets his points and (Dylan) Alderson gets his, you’re not going to beat them.”
Alderson, a senior forward, had 27 points and sophomore center Taylor Currie added 10 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks for the Wolves, who built their halftime lead to 42-24.
A state championship would help cement coach Dan Fife’s legacy. He’s been coaching at Clarkston for 35 years and has a 676-169 career record, which ranks fourth all-time in MHSAA history for boys coaching victories.
“Coach Fife will never admit it, but for him to win the state championship, it’s always been his goal,” Loyer said. “Over the years, he’s had some tough losses. To get it done for coach Fife, our community and our team would mean the world to us.”
Fife said it would be satisfying to win the state title.
“Since 1957, when I first moved to Michigan, it’s always been my dream to get to the finals and hopefully win a state championship,” he said. “But just to get here, to be in these surroundings, being at the Breslin … it’s always been a dream. Our football team has (won state) twice, our ski teams. I’m the lone holdout.”
Loyer’s performance against West Bloomfield was just another day at the office.
“He plays his heart out every day,” Alderson said. “He’s really good at making others around him better. That’s why State wants him so bad. There’s not a day when he doesn’t work hard. He wasn’t nervous, at all.”
Even though Loyer can’t sign with the Spartans until next year, he doesn’t plan to change his mind.
“I’m 100% committed to Michigan State,” he said. “I can’t wait for the future.”
Senior guard Kevin McAdoo had 22 points for West Bloomfield (17-9), which lost to Clarkston three times this season.