Troy's Young outduels Clarkston's Tatu
Young's school-record 49 points just enough to beat Clarkston and Nick Tatu's 47
By DAN FENNER
Special to The Oakland Press
TROY — Records fell Tuesday night at Troy High School.
Enormous pregame hype surrounded the matchup between a vaunted Clarkston team carrying just one loss and a surging Troy squad featuring James Young, arguably the best player in the state. If even possible, the actual event exceeded the lofty expectations of a certain thriller of a game.
Young turned in a staggering performance, notching a school-record 49 points and hauling down 18 rebounds to help the Colts storm past the Wolves in the second half and claim a 79-74 victory.
"Right now, we're playing team ball. We believe we can beat anybody and it showed tonight," veteran Troy coach Gary Fralick said. "Any time one player gets 49 for you, it's hard for the other team to beat you."
Remarkably, the logic that says a near-50 point individual performance is good enough to win could not also be applied in the case Clarkston's Nick Tatu.
The senior guard nearly matched Young's prolific scoring output with a 47-point performance of his own. Tatu connected on a dumbfounding 12 baskets from 3-point range, missing on only a few attempts. The 12 treys established a new Clarkston record.
The score was tied, 40-40, with 4:10 remaining in the third quarter. From there, the Colts went on an 18-9 run over the next seven minutes of play stretching into the fourth quarter.
Young scored 13 of his 33 second half points during that stretch to give Troy a nine-point lead.
"He was fantastic," Fralick said of Young. "The thing with James now is that he's going inside and outside. In the past, he has relied on everything outside, but now he'll go down and work to get open. He'll get a 15-foot (shot), he'll take a 5-footer, or he'll go out and get a three. He doesn't care where he gets the ball — he will score from that spot."
Clarkston coach Dan Fife said Young put on a scoring clinic and credited his versatility as the biggest reason his team's defense could never come close to containing him.
"What I like about (Young) was that he always had himself under control driving to the basket," Fife said. We got one charge called on him early and he didn't take another one after that.
"He was a man amongst boys tonight and he's just a junior."
Clarkston pulled within three points of a tie with 2:10 remaining when, for the second time in the final quarter, Tatu drained a 3-pointer and a subsequent free throw for a four-point play. But Young and junior Joe Leonard each managed to sink their free throws on Troy's next two possessions and the Wolves' comeback bid met its end.
"It was incredible. I've never seen anything like this," Fife said of the scoring duel between Young and Tatu. "It's not necessarily the way we wanted to score, but thank God Tatu kept us in the ballgame. If he hadn't scored offensively, it would have been a blowout."
Young's 49 point-performance is the highest single-game total of any player in Oakland County this season. He sank 17 shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, while nailing 12-of-16 free-throw attempts.
"I really had to pick it up. I knew (Clarkston) was a good team, so I really had to step my game up," Young said, adding that matching Tatu shot-for-shot was never on his mind. "We moved the ball around a lot and it gave me a chance to get open, so that's often how I scored.
"The points wouldn't mean anything if we didn't win though."
Leonard contributed 10 points for Troy, which improved to 10-4 (4-1 OAA White).
For Clarkston (12-2, 7-0 OAA Red), senior Mitch Baenziger tallied 15 points.
The win extended the Colts' streak to four-straight, while the Wolves dropped just their second game of the season and their first in Oakland Activities Association play.
"Clarkston is kind of the measuring stick," Fralick said. "They're a team that's always hard to beat because they're well-coached and well-disciplined. If you can beat them and show the same kind of discipline and rebound the basketball, they're a lot easier to beat on your home floor. We took advantage of an opportunity tonight."