Dave Goricki previews the high school basketball state tournament with Edison's Rickea Jackson, Cass Tech's Tyson Acuff and New Haven's Romeo Weems. The Detroit News
The boys high school state basketball tournament has barely gotten underway and multiple powers have already been sent home.
The biggest upset was Rochester Adams’ 38-37 win over Clarkston, which had piled up 17 straight wins and was No. 5 in The Detroit News State Super 20 final rankings.
Clarkston – which won the Class A state championship in 2017 and 2018 – earned its 13th consecutive OAA Red Division championship after losing its entire eight-man rotation from a year ago.
Clarkston had an outstanding freshmen backcourt in 6-foot-2 Fletcher Loyer – younger brother of Foster Loyer, who was named Mr. Basketball last year – and Keegan Wasilk, along with 7-foot junior Matt Nicholson.
But Adams (18-3) – the OAA White Division champion – pushed Nicholson away from the basket and slowed down Fletcher and Wasilk to move on to Wednesday’s Division 1 district semifinal against Lake Orion (12-8) at Lake Orion.
Adams freshman point guard Gunner Walters (5-10, 120 pounds) limited Loyer – who averaged 17.1 points on 45.3 percent shooting from 3-point range – to 10 points on 1-of-4 shooting from deep range. Adams sophomore guard Ethan Emerzian scored 10 and played strong defense against Wasilk.
“I thought we did a great job defensively, got into Nicholson a little bit and my guards, when they’re challenged they really get after it,” said Adams third-year head coach Brad Crighton. “We tried not to let him (Nicholson) get too deep because with his length and his size, if he gets within three or four feet of the basket, he’s either going to score or get his own rebound and score, so we tried to keep him away. I thought my big guys Solomon Shaw-Nichols and George Gurraj definitely stepped up and played a great game defensively. They’re both 6-5.
“Ethan scored 10 and played a great game defensively against Wasilk, and Gunner Walters had a phenomenal game, found the open guy offensively, got six assists, and Fletcher really didn’t get any open looks against him.
“We kind of challenged Gunner, talked about fighting through the screens and getting on his hip and following him. He really frustrated him the whole game, tried to make him more of a driver than a shooter.”
Crighton knows he will have no problem with Adams’ focus since Adams lost to Lake Orion in the season opener, 51-41. If Adams advances it would have a potential showdown with OAA Blue Division champion Oxford (20-1) for the district title. Oxford defeated Adams 49-40 in the second game of the season.
In another upset, Detroit King defeated No. 12 and PSL champion Detroit Cass Tech 55-51 in double-overtime, coming back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit and a 44-39 deficit with 1:50 left in regulation.
King senior point guard Jordan Whitford scored 18, including 11 during a 24-14 fourth-quarter after King trailed 30-20 after three.
King missed its first 14 3-pointers, but made 6-of-8 3-pointers the rest of the way, including one from Whitford with 2:20 left in the second OT for a 50-47 lead, then grabbing a loose ball and scoring in transition for a 54-50 cushion with 25 seconds left.
Kalil Whitehead, a 6-5 senior, scored 22 on 10-of-16 shooting for Cass Tech, but his 10-footer from the left baseline was waved off, as time had expired before the ball left his hand at the end of regulation.
Whitehead had a chance to put the game away at the end of the first overtime, stepping to the free-throw line with 1.5 seconds left and Cass Tech trailing 47-46, but could only convert 1-of-2. Cass Tech made just 7-of-17 from the line for the game.
King (16-4), which won two of three from Cass Tech, moves on to face Melvindale (7-12) in a district semifinal Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Detroit Western.
There will be a number of district semifinals of interest Wednesday with Mr. Basketball finalist in B. Artis White and No. 9 Canton (19-1) facing fellow Mr. Basketball finalist Joe Moon IV and Westland John Glenn (12-8) at 5 p.m. at Wayne.
At Belleville, 6-8 Emoni Bates (30 points, 10.3 rebounds) – considered the top freshman in the nation – and No. 17 Ypsilanti Lincoln (16-4) will face Ypsilanti (14-6) at 7 p.m. Lincoln swept the regular-season series with Ypsilanti to earn its first league title (SEC White) in 15 years.
Catholic League champion and No. 3 U-D Jesuit (19-2) will face PSL runnerup and No. 20 Detroit Renaissance (16-4) and Mr. Basketball finalist Chandler Turner in the 5 p.m. district semifinal at Detroit Mumford.