Wayne — Defending Class A state champion Clarkston opened its season Tuesday night at Wayne Memorial with Michigan State-bound power forward Thomas Kithier sitting on the sideline in a team warm-up suit.
Kithier, a 6-foot-8 senior, played his first three years at Macomb Dakota before transferring to Clarkston, where he planned on playing with Clarkston senior point guard Foster Loyer, who will be his teammate with the Spartans next year.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association is looking at whether Kithier’s transfer was an athletic-motivated move. If so, he could be banned the entire season.
The MHSAA executive committee is expected to make a decision by the end of the week on Kithier’s status, but it did not allow him to play in the opener.
Loyer made sure Clarkston’s season-opener would be a success, scoring 23 in a 65-55 victory over a quick and athletic Wayne team, ranked No. 10 in The Detroit News Super 20 preseason rankings.
With or without Kithier, Clarkston is loaded with talent and is the favorite to once again advance to the Breslin Center in East Lansing in late March to win the state title with Loyer, along with Wisconsin-bound 6-9 Taylor Currie, 6-10 sophomore Matt Nicholson, 6-4 senior Hank Schemmel, a transfer from Maryland and veteran guards C.J. Robinson and Nick Wells.
Loyer missed four of his first five 3-pointers, but rallied Clarkston back from a 16-13 deficit by sparking an 11-1 run to end the half, scoring seven, including his lone 3-pointer to open up a 24-17 halftime lead.
Clarkston could have used Kithier with Currie failing to finish at the basket, getting multiple shots blocked, missing on others and settling for two first-half points, both coming on free throws.
Currie did get on track in the early minutes of the second half, scoring six during a 14-7 run to push the lead to 38-24 midway through the third quarter. He finished with 20 points, including 12 during the final quarter.
Robinson showed his perimeter skills by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers within a 20-second span in the third for a 44-29 advantage. He finished with 11.
Wayne senior guard Rashad Williams scored 27, making seven 3-pointers.
So, what’s Kithier’s status?
“Right now, he is ineligible until second semester,” MHSAA communications director John Johnson told The Detroit News on Monday, “but the school (Clarkston) has appealed the ruling regarding his eligibility. It’s already gone to the Executive Committee and a decision will be coming this week. He’s ineligible to play until the Executive Committee’s decision is released.”
Clarkston's head coach is Dan Fife and his son is Michigan State assistant coach Dane Fife. Kithier committed to MSU last year when he was still playing for Dakota.
"I consider it an honor to represent Clarkston Community Schools and I would never do anything to jeopardize our reputation or to gain an unfair advantage on any other school," said Fife in a prepared statement.
"I was raised to always obey the rules and I have passed that ethic on to every kid who played on any of my teams, including my three sons. I have never been accused of violating any rules, and I would not do so under any circumstances.
"During my coaching career, there have been times where families moved to Clarkston and their sons played on my teams. My only concern when that occurs is that the families follow the rules set by the MHSAA. That is what occurred in this case. I was not involved in any way in the decision made by the family to move to Clarkston and any suggestion to the contrary is false."
Clarkston has played Dakota in the postseason the last three years with Clarkston coming out on top twice, including a 20-point win in last year’s regional semifinal.
More boys basketball
Allen Park 61, Dearborn Heights Crestwood 56: Donovan Ebo had 21 points and Ryan Miller had 11 for Allen Park (1-0). Hati Elghoul had 16 points and Quan Smith had 11 for Crestwood (0-1).
Bloomfield Hills 59, Plymouth Christian 48: Tyler Canfield scored 28 and Grant Ellis had 9 for Bloomfield (1-0). Matthew Malcolm had 11 for Plymouth (0-1).
Canton 65, Belleville 61: B.Artis White and Eian Barker each scored 18 and Chase Mereditch 15 for Canton (1-0). Gabe Brown scored 25 and Davion Williams 16 for Belleville (0-1).
Dearborn Henry Ford 66, Dearborn Advanced Tech 50: Mateo Ricumstrict had 24 points and 10 assists, Jacob Glenn-Bradley had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, Damon Bomar added 12 points and 10 rebounds and Kobe Johnson finished with 15 points and eight steals for Henry Ford (1-0). Advanced Tech is 0-1.
Detroit Community 57, Pontiac 55, OT: Rayvon Williamson scored 27 and Herman Brown had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Community.
Ecorse 70, Detroit West Side Academy 24: Kyron Carroll scored 17 and four rebounds, Kaleb Maddox had 11 and 12 rebounds, and Justin Parrish had 12 points and six assists for Ecorse (1-0). West is 0-1.
Kimball Landmark Academy 61, Austin Catholic 23: Bret Hager had 20 points and Payton Phillips and Daniel Donaldson each had 13 for Kimball (1-0). Benjamin Brown had 13 for Austin Catholic (0-1).
Okemos 77, Lansing Catholic 44: Jordan Henry scored 36 and Noah Pruitt had 13 for Okemos.
Plymouth 72, Redford Union 57: Anthony Crump had 27 points and Justin Reynolds and A.J. Neal had 12 each for Plymouth (1-0). Christian Montgomery had 12 for Redford Union (0-1).
River Rouge 44, Detroit Osborn 42 (OT): Nigel Colbin had 19 points and six rebounds and Bralin Toney had 10 and six assists for River Rouge (1-0). Isaiah Watts had 17 for Osborn (0-1).
White Lake Lakeland 53, Fenton 36: Patrick McDonald scored 15 and Kyle Flowers nine for Lakeland (1-0). Addison McIntosh scored 14 for Fenton (0-1).
Woodhaven 59, Detroit Cornerstone 57: Joshua Warren had 35 points and eight assists and Bryon Wilkerson scored 15 for Woodhaven (1-0). Cornerstone is 0-1.
Detroit Mumford 48, Westland John Glenn 45: Monica Williams and Adoreya Williams each had 15 for Mumford (1-0) and Zamaria Polk chipped in eight. Carley Locing had 15, Taylor Watkins-Jones had 10, and Sharon Woddard had 9 for John Glenn (1-1).
Farmington Hills Mercy 44, Dearborn Divine Child 43: Jess Mruzik converted on 1-of-2 free throws with 8 seconds left as Julia Bishop scored 12 and Alexis Roberts added 10 for Mercy (3-0, 1-0 Catholic League Central). Emilie Reinhardt had 14 points and Maddie Rzepka 13 for Divine Child (0-2, 0-1).
Macomb Dakota 58, L'Anse Creuse 22: Tera Bieniewicz scored 14 and Taylor Williams added 12 for Dakota (2-0).
Waterford Mott 37, Troy 34: Emily Huff scored 16 for Mott (2-0). Athena Samson had 15 points for Troy (2-1).
Boys basketball scores
Berkley 42, Eastpointe 31
Canton Preparatory 71, Lutheran Westland 49
Dearborn 65, Livonia Churchill 53
Detroit Central 59, Detroit leadership 53
Detroit Loyola 70, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic 64
Detroit Renaissance 55, Detroit Collegiate Prep 45
Flat Rock 72, Romulus Summit Academy North 71 (OT)
Gibraltar Carlson 75, Garden City 38
Madison Heights Madison 47, Madison Heights Bishop Foley 42
Monroe 60, Dearborn Edsel Ford 57
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 52, Walled Lake Western 33
Plymouth 72, Redford Union 57
Rochester 68, Detroit University Prep 50
Southfield Christian 75, Southfield A&T 48
Girls basketball scores
Brownstown Woodhaven 81, Flat Rock 64
Dearborn 44, Livonia Churchill 29
Detroit Osborn 37, Detroit International Academy 24
Detroit Public Safety Academy 54, Southfield Christian 30
Ferndale University 52, Pontiac Academy for Excellence 23
Grosse Pointe North 45, Sterling Heights 21
Livonia Ladywood 32, Macomb Lutheran North 30
Novi Franklin Road 69, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 28
Monroe 50, Edsel Ford 19
North Farmington 54, Walled Lake Northern 39
Plymouth Salem 32, Seaholm 23
Waterford Mott 37, Troy 34