Canton is capable of contending for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship with the outstanding backcourt of B. Artis White and Vinson Sigmon leading the way.
Canton — 9-1 and ranked No. 15 in The Detroit News State Super 20 — is coming off an impressive week where it defeated a strong Howell team (74-62) Tuesday before beating rival Plymouth, 63-47, Friday. That was Canton’s ninth straight win following a season-opening loss to defending Class C state champion Detroit Edison.
White scored 24 against Howell, then poured in 32 against Plymouth with Sigmon scoring 16.
White, the son of former Eastern Michigan assistant Benny White, is averaging a team-high 20.6 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals while Sigmon is at 17.5 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“We’ve had a good non-league schedule, had that loss to Edison in the opener, then got things rolling,” Canton 10th-year head coach Jimmy Reddy said. “Our backcourt with B. Artis and Vinson is probably the best in the area, if not one of the best in the state. They allow us to compete with most teams, and then the younger, inexperienced guys started to figure things out.”
White signed with Western Michigan in November and Sigmon recently received an offer from Wisconsin-Parkside, a Division II team that competes in the GLIAC.
“They are great people —really, really great ambassadors for our school and our program,” Reddy said. “In terms of their game, B. Artis is the fastest with the ball in the hands dribbling we’ve had in my 10 years at Canton. He’s so good at changing speeds and then accelerating. He’s shooting it at a really, really high level. He had six 3s on Tuesday and six more 3s Friday night, so he’s shooting well and can score in different ways.
“Vinson is just a bulldog. He’s a great two-way player. He’s our best perimeter defender, has been for three years. He’s a really good leader and has one of the best pull-up jumpers around, but he can step out and shoot it and make the 3 as well.”
Canton had an inside presence in 6-foot-6, 260-pound Darius Robinson, a member of The Detroit News Dream Team in football before Robinson decided to enroll early to start his football career at Missouri.
Robinson originally didn’t go out for basketball, then called Reddy Thanksgiving weekend and asked if he could join the team.
“He called me Thanksgiving weekend, saying he wasn’t going to enroll early anywhere and wanted to play basketball,” Reddy said. “He missed that opener at Edison, then played the next four or five games. When he decided to go to Missouri, early enrollment was an option, so he left (Friday).
“Darius played hard, played three or four minutes at a time. He didn’t score a lot, but averaged six rebounds. He brought that physical presence in how he made screens where if he was ball screening for B. Artis or Vince, that was a tough ball screen to get around.
“Now, our biggest guy is Jake Vickers, who is another football guy, 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. He’ll guard the post player on the other team, but he’ll do a lot of picking and popping and he’s more high post and perimeter than low post on offense.”
Vickers is averaging nine points and six rebounds, and is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.
Canton had one of the strongest teams in the KLAA last year, finishing 19-2 with its lone losses coming to Novi — which advanced to the Class A state semifinals — losing in the league tournament semifinals, then again in the districts on a last-second tip-in.
“Last year’s team had five or six guys that could score double figures,” Reddy said. “It was a way more experienced group, had seven seniors, plus B. Artis and Vince, so we had a lot of experience. This team is younger. We’re more inexperienced and we lean more heavily on our two guards.
“We like to play up-tempo, try to get up and down, and as long as we can rebound we can run, and we’re preaching that to our guys.”
Not missing a beat
It’s always tough to replace a legend, but Tim Wasilk has been impressive in his first year as Clarkston’s head coach after replacing Dan Fife, who guided Clarkston to 703 wins in 36 years, concluding with consecutive Class A state championships in 2017 and 2018.
Clarkston – 10-2 and ranked No. 6 in the State Super 20 by The News – graduated its entire eight-man rotation from a year ago, including Mr. Basketball award winner Foster Loyer (Michigan State) and 6-foot-9 Taylor Currie (Wisconsin).
Wasilk has an extremely young team to work with, including the freshman backcourt of 6-2 Fletcher Loyer, Foster’s younger brother, and Keegan Wasilk, the coach’s nephew, leading the way.
Wasilk was Clarkston’s former head girls basketball coach, then moved on to become Fife’s assistant coach before replacing him. He opened the season with consecutive losses to Sterling Heights Stevenson and Pontiac before 10 straight wins, including a 53-39 win over No. 7 Detroit King in the Horatio Williams Freedom Classic Saturday night at Warren Fitzgerald.
It was a big week for Wasilk and Clarkston (5-0 OAA Red), which defeated Oak Park 66-52 on the road Thursday night to open a two-game lead on North Farmington (9-3, 3-2) in the league division standings.
Clarkston defeated North Farmington 47-45 on Jan. 3 and will play host to North Farmington Feb. 5.
“We had a great week, getting that win at a tough place to play at Oak Park, then beating a very good King team,” Wasilk said. “King trapped and pressed us and we did a good job for the most part, led 25-20 at halftime, then outscored them 18-3 in the third quarter to open up a 20-point lead.”
Loyer scored 15 against King and is averaging a team-high 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists, with Nicholson averaging 14 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and Wasilk 12 points and 3.2 assists.
Bates helps Lincoln end rivalry skid
Ypsilanti Lincoln has been on the losing end of its rivalry with crosstown rival Ypsilanti for the past several years.
But 6-foot-8 freshman phenom Emoni Bates made sure Lincoln put the past behind it Friday night when he scored 13 fourth-quarter points to turn a 48-46 deficit into a 68-56 victory before a packed house, including MSU coach Tom Izzo.
Ypsilanti (7-3, 5-1) has won the Southeastern Conference White championship every year since it joined the league in 2010.
Now, Lincoln (9-1, 6-0) has a chance of dethroning Ypsilanti after winning for the first time in series since the 2013-14 season. The rematch will be Feb. 15 at Lincoln.
After being held to a season-low eight points Dec. 29 in a 78-47 loss to River Rouge, Bates made sure he would be at the top of his game against Ypsilanti, scoring a career-high 43 on 13-of-27 shooting, making 6-of-11 3-pointers, including one early in the fourth quarter to give his team its first lead of the game.
Bates, one of the top freshmen in the nation, is averaging 29.4 points and 10.4 rebounds, with another marquee showdown set up Feb. 2 against defending Class B state champion Benton Harper in the Redhawks Showcase Classic at Grand Rapids Union.