BOYS HOOPS: Red Hawks Can’t Slow No. 1 Clarkston

SENIOR GUARD ELI SMITH looks to provide some fourth-quarter offense for Athens Thursday night in a 79-26 defeat to Clarkston, the top-ranked team in the state.

The Red Hawks got a taste Thursday night of the same medicine Clarkston has been dishing out to OAA Red opponents all season.

Undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class A in the state, the Wolves were firing on all cylinders in a 79-26 win at Athens.

“We had five guys in double-figures, that’s good scoring for us,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “We shot the ball really well. They got us on a hot night. They had a lot of shots they missed, and I know they’re a good shooting team, better than they played.”

Tough enough to stop when Clarkston’s two best players — junior point guard Foster Loyer and senior wing Dylan Alderson — are in-sync, the visitors got early contributions from other underclassmen early on.

Alderson showed off his hops in the opening quarter with a variety of dunks, including a reverse jam, and junior guard C.J. Robinson converted a four-point play as part of the early offense for the Wolves (15-0).

To close out the first in style, Loyer, committed to Michigan State, hit a pull-up triple with just seconds left, wrapping up the quarter with a 30-4 lead.

Guard Brendt Stephens was able to cook up the best responses for the Red Hawks in the second quarter, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers for all nine of his team-high points, but on two of those occasions, Alderson and Loyer immediately responded with 3’s of their own. The last of Loyer’s four 3-pointers in before halftime came from straight away and closed the half with the Wolves leading 55-19.

“We tried to keep [Loyer] in front of us, and I thought Brendt did a pretty nice job on him,” Athens coach Dave Scott said. “I thought a lot of his points, especially early, [came when] they got some switches and we got somebody else [defending] on him. Even then, he’s a great player, and Alderson is tremendous.”

“We made a little bit of a run, as much as it was, but they did a good job of taking us out of our offense and what we wanted to do, and we just struggled from there.”

Junior forward Hunter Nelson’s drive from the right wing for a basket with 2:35 on the clock proved to be Athens’ only points of the third quarter. On top 70-21, the Wolves’ trio of Loyer, Alderson and 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Taylor Currie all rested over the final eight minutes with the outcome in hand.

Alderson, committed to Milwaukee, led Clarkston with a team-high 21 points, and Loyer came in just behind with 20.

Currie, an off-season transfer from Ohio being looked at by schools like Michigan and Oakland, chipped in 13 points, while Robinson added 12.

Nelson registered eight points for the Red Hawks.

Scott said he talked about the team just competing and playing hard in the cross-over matchup against a side that has won by double-digits in all but one game this season.

“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason, and when they’re shooting the ball like they were shooting tonight, there’s really not a whole lot you can do. You’re in for a long evening.”

The game also served as an opportunity for fans to donate towards the $100,000 goal set to benefit The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation as part of Troy Athens Charity Week.

Sitting at 6-8 overall, the Red Hawks will look to rebound back in OAA White play with another pair of home games next week, first against Pontiac on Tuesday, then versus Avondale Friday night.