By Teddy Rydquist
Review Sports Contributor
After hosting the West Bloomfield Lakers in their final home game on Feb. 28, the Lake Orion Dragons boys’ basketball team rounded out their regular season with consecutive road contests against the Ferndale Eagles and Clarkston Wolves on March 3 and 5, respectively.
These two programs represented as tough of a finish to the campaign as possible for the Dragons. Clarkston won the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red title at a sparkling 12-0 in league play, while Ferndale finished in second-place at 9-3.
Lake Orion kept it close against Ferndale in the opening half, but struggled in the game’s latter 16 minutes, losing 64-37.
Senior guard Cam Sutton poured in a game-high 18 points for the Dragons and juniors Andrew Bryant and Brennan Jones each chipped in five points. Senior Jayshawn Moore led the Eagles with 16 points.
Perennially one of the best teams in the state of Michigan, Clarkston always presents an extremely difficult challenge for Lake Orion. Unfortunately for head coach Joel Schroeder, his task became even tougher as seniors Dylan Boedigheimer (right shoulder) and Drew Van Heck (illness) were forced to miss the season finale.
Boedigheimer suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Ferndale loss. He was present for the Clarkston game and intends on being available for the district quarterfinal against the Romeo Bulldogs.
With Jones and sophomore Alden Ritt thrust into the starting lineup, the Wolves jumped all over the Dragons early and coasted in the second half to a 57-45 victory.
Clarkston led 18-4 after the first quarter and took a 35-8 lead into the halftime break. In Lake Orion’s defense, the boys did not roll over and won the second half, 37-22.
Sutton led all scorers with 18 points for the second-straight game, 16 of them coming in the second half. Jones responded well to his starting role, recording eight points.
Clarkston senior Matt Nicholson, a Northwestern Wildcats commit, led the Wolves with 15 points. Cole Donchez, another senior, added 12 points, including a one-handed slam to extend the lead to 49-16 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Clarkston sophomore Fletcher Loyer, the younger brother of Michigan State Spartans sophomore guard Foster Loyer, matched Donchez’ 12 points.
“We’ve been working hard to find out who our scorers are,” Schroeder shared. “We haven’t established that yet, except for Cam (Sutton). We need that second and third guy to step up, we need some of our guys to be more aggressive with the basketball.”
Under legendary head coach Dan Fife, Clarkston was notorious for not full-court pressuring the Dragons in the first quarter but ramping it up in the second and changing the course of the game.
Tim Wasilk, in his second season after taking over following Fife’s 2018 retirement, elected to pressure Lake Orion from the opening tip in this one.
“At the beginning of the game, they play at a very high-level,” Schroeder said. “They get after you defensively, and once you get by that; you have a seven-footer (Nicholson) waiting on you.
“When they subbed and we got some guys we could play against, we played much better in the second half. So, I’m happy about that rolling into districts.”
The Dragons finished the regular season at 6-14 (2-10 OAA Red).
Lake Orion will look to make their postseason push in the same gym where they concluded the regular season.
Hosted by the Clarkston High School Wolves, the Dragons were placed in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) District No. 5.
Along with Lake Orion and the hometown Wolves, the Oxford Wildcats, Rochester Adams Highlanders, Romeo Bulldogs and Waterford Kettering Captains make up the six-team district.
The Dragons will face Romeo in a quarterfinal matchup at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 9.
“Big, tough team,” Schroeder said of the Bulldogs, coached by Marvin Cushingberry.
“They play in a tough league, the Macomb Area Conference (MAC). We have a chance, though. We’re going to do our homework on them, practice all week hard and come ready to go.”
Romeo posted an 8-12 (5-5 MAC White) mark in 2019-20. Favoring a slower, low-scoring approach, the Bulldogs scored just 51.9 points per game this season, but were equally tough on the defensive end, surrendering just 54.4 points per contest.
Clarkston will face Rochester Adams in the other quarterfinal matchup (March 9, 5:30 p.m.), with Oxford awaiting the winner.
The winner of the Lake Orion-Romeo clash will advance to face Waterford Kettering in the semifinals on March 11.