Canton is showing its ability to successfully close out games this season with all five starters returning from a team that finished 13-8 last season, losing six games in the final seconds.
“Eight of our top nine guys are back from last year when we lost six of our eight games by three points or less,” said Jimmy Reddy, in his ninth year as Canton’s head coach. “Every night we were in a battle. We were super young, started two sophomores and three juniors. That experience is helping us now.”
Reddy is thrilled to have an experienced backcourt in juniors B. Artis White, a three-year starting point guard, along with Vinson Sigmon and 6-foot-1 Eian Barker. They can all handle the ball when opponents put on full-court pressure.
White, the son of former Eastern Michigan assistant coach Benny White, is averaging 18 points to help Canton to a 3-0 start. He has grown from 5-7, 125 pounds his freshman year to 5-11 and 150 this season.
“B. Artis had a great summer and has gotten a lot stronger and taller,” Reddy said of White, who played AAU ball for The Family and received an offer from Northern Kentucky. “He’s just a lot stronger at finishing at the rim. Now, he can score in different ways, shot 11 free throws on Friday night (in a win over Westland John Glenn). He’s probably the fastest kid with the ball in his hands that I’ve ever coached.
“Vinson Sigmon is probably our best two-way player, can defend and he’s a real good offensive player for us, scored 26 in our win over Detroit Country Day. And, Eian Barker does a good job of scoring — had 15 in the win over John Glenn and 18 in our win over Belleville.
“No doubt, it helps to have good guard play, especially against teams such as Belleville and John Glenn, who likes to pressure you. We welcome the pressure because those guys can handle it so well that we tend to get pretty good shots when teams pressure us.”
Canton upset Belleville — ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News preseason top-20 teams — 65-61 this month in the season opener with White and Barker each scoring 18, and 6-7 senior Chase Meredith getting 18 points and 10 rebounds. Meredith is one of several players from Canton’s KLAA and district championship football team, joining 6-3 senior Noah Brown, Colin Troup and Connor Engel.
“Noah Brown has a chance to be our school’s all-time leading rebounder,” Reddy said of Brown, who played linebacker and averages 7.5 rebounds, and needs to average 9 to become the school’s all-time leading rebounder. “He’s a very good defender and a very good rebounder. Gabe Brown scored 25 against us, but had to work with Noah doing a great job against him.”
Canton will play Troy in the Inaugural Holiday Extravaganza Dec. 28 at North Farmington.
Clarkston off to 4-0 start
While all the news off the court has been on the banning of Michigan State-bound power forward Thomas Kithier, defending Class A champion Clarkston has been doing just fine on the court with a 4-0 record.
“We’ve had some good games, beat Wayne and that’s a good team, especially that kid (Rashad Williams) who can score from deep,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “We’re doing well, but still trying to define ourselves on what our strengths are going to be. We beat a very good Flint Carman-Ainsworth team and I think we played our best game so far against Sterling Heights Stevenson.”
Clarkston’s strength is the 1-2 punch of MSU-bound point guard Foster Loyer and 6-9, 220-pound Taylor Currie, who is headed for Wisconsin, along with senior guard C.J. Robinson.
"He (Currie) had his best game offensively of the season against Stevenson,” Fife said. “C.J. Robinson has played well and we’ve had some good outings from the kids off the bench, guys like (Nick) Wells, who started for us last year, Chase Wasilk and (6-6) Hank Schemmel. They’re doing a really good job.”
Kithier transferred from Macomb Dakota to Clarkston to play his senior season, but the MHSAA has ruled him ineligible. His family is suing the MHSAA to allow him to play.
“The whole thing smells,” Fife said. “I don’t like Clarkston or anybody being in this type of circumstance, but we’ll just have to let it play out.
“I just stay out of it and let the administration people take care of it. I just coach whoever I can.”
Clarkston will play at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Thursday before playing Michigan-bound point guard David DeJulius and Detroit East English Dec. 28 in the Inaugural Holiday Extravaganza at North Farmington.
PSL season starts this week
The PSL season gets underway Tuesday with defending champion Detroit Cass Tech (2-0) hosting Detroit Western and Detroit Renaissance going to Detroit Henry Ford.
Renaissance is 2-1 with its loss coming to Flint Carman-Ainsworth.
Renaissance is led by the 1-2 punch of 6-6 junior Chandler Turner and 6-8 junior Carrington McCaskill. Turner is averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds and McCaskill, 17 points.
“Carrington is the best athlete in the state, dunks four or five times a game and can put the ball on the floor,” Renaissance coach Vito Jordan said. “He has offers from mid-majors and now some of the bigger schools are showing interest too.”
Williamston’s boys team was known a couple of years ago for knocking out Class B state champion Wyoming Godwin Heights in the regional semifinals behind a brilliant 37-point performance from Riley Lewis.
Williamston’s girls team has an outstanding defender in Lewis’ younger sister, sophomore Kenzie Lewis.
Lewis showed her ability as a defensive stopper last Tuesday in a 62-52 win over Wayne Memorial when she made life tough for Wayne all-state senior guard Camree Clegg.
Clegg, who scored 41 in a season-opening 73-70 win over defending Class B champion Detroit Country Day, making 10-of-15 3-pointers, was limited to 23 points. She made 9-of-27 shots from the floor, including 2-of-12 from deep range with Lewis using her size — 5-10 with a much longer wing span — to block a pair of her 3-point attempts on a single possession.
“I love the competition and this is what we all live for, playing in games like this,” Lewis said following the game. “We knew she (Clegg) was a great player, surrounded by other great players and we just wanted to focus on good, solid defense, making everything tough for her. We had to stay on our feet because she does a lot of stop and go, pump fakes so we had to stay grounded and stay in control.”
Lewis, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the win over Wayne, said she gained a lot of experience by playing against her older brother.
“He’s always been challenging me,” Kenzie said. “We’ve grown up in the backyard shooting hoops. I’ve played one-on-one against him and that’s not easy.”
Area fans will get a chance to watch Lewis, shooting guard Maddie Watters (Western Michigan) and Williamston — which lost to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep in last year’s state quarterfinals — in the Motor City Roundball Classic Dec. 28 against Eastmoor (Ohio) at Detroit Northwestern.