Performance: Jesuit's Cassius Winston

March 31, 2016

Cassius Winston
Detroit U-D Jesuit senior - Boys Basketball

Winston said his team's trip last weekend to the Breslin Center was like a final exam for his high school career – and he earned a perfect score. Winston led the Cubs to their first MHSAA basketball championship and the final victories of a 28-0 season to earn the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week. 

The 6-foot-1 guard, who earlier in the week received the state's Mr. Basketball Award as the top senior in Michigan, scored 27 points and dished 12 assists in a Semifinal win over then-undefeated Macomb Dakota to send U-D Jesuit to its first championship game. He had 31 points in the Final, making 14 of 16 shots to go with nine assists in the 69-49 win over North Farmington. 

For the season, Winston averaged 21.9 points and 7.5 assists per game and also started on the U-D Jesuit teams that reached the Semifinals his sophomore and junior seasons. He has signed to continue his career at Michigan State University, and as the Detroit Free Press reported earlier this season carries a 3.5 grade-point average while taking a number of honors classes. 

Coach Pat Donnelly said: "Nothing Cassius does surprises me. He's been doing this for four years. He was 14 of 16 from the floor, and a lot of that is great shot selection. He's one of the most unselfish players I've ever coached, if not the (most unselfish). The reason he shoots such a high percentage is he's talented, and he also takes great shots; he doesn't force things. If he does get double-teamed or there's help, he finds the open man."

Performance Point: "(Saturday) was definitely one of those days where I knew I had to have my best performance. It was going to be my last high school game, last chance at winning a state championship. I was just kinda zoned in, focused and ready to go. ... We've been working for this moment right here."

Hot hand: "I just do what I can. I was scoring the basketball. My teammates, they kept going to me. They kept ball-screening for me every time. If I was open, I was getting the ball because I was making shots. So they provided for me."

Openings and opportunities: "Last year we didn't have as many dudes that could score the basketball, so everyone would just be waiting in the paint for me. This year, we had Scotty (Nelson) have 13, 14 points - he's been hot from the 3-pointers. We've got Ike (Eke) and Greg (Eboigbodin) down there who would be making plays. The defense couldn't just focus on me. There's a lot out there that they have to focus on. So it was kinda easier for me to get to the basket."

Perfect finish: "Everything that you want in a basketball team, we had. Matt Schearer, I don't think he shot a shot (Saturday), maybe one if that, but he doesn't mind. He's going to play defense, he's going to rebound, he's going to do whatever you need to do. We got Ike and Greg averaging 10 points, 10 rebounds. We've got dudes that come off the bench. Everything that you would like in your basketball team, we had this year, and that's how we became successful."

Green and White: "It's just a good feeling knowing I'm going to step into that huge family that's going to support me. I know there's probably a lot of Spartan fans out there who are coming out to support me and watch me do what I do. I just want to say thank you to the Spartan family."

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.

Previous 2015-16 honorees
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit U-D Jesuit's Cassius Winston (5) looks for an open lane during Saturday's Class A Final against North Farmington. (Middle) Winston (left) and teammate Matt Schearer join the rest of the Cubs in beginning the title celebration. 

South Christian Sails Into Latest Challenge, Earns Saturday Return

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

March 24, 2023

EAST LANSING – The Grand Rapids South Christian boys basketball team faced adversity when it lost standout sophomore Carson Vis to season-ending injuries in last week’s Regional Final.

The Sailors faced a different kind of adversity Friday in a Division 2 Semifinal, as they were tested for the first time since late January.

South Christian responded, and showed a steely resolve that put the team one step closer to a championship following a 40-35 overtime win over Romulus Summit Academy North at Breslin Center.

The Sailors will play Ferndale in Saturday’s Division 2 Final.

“We talk about adversity all the time, and we’re missing our 20 points a game star player, and so we’ve had some throughout the season,” South Christian coach Taylor Johnson said. “It builds character.”

Summit’s Dontez Scott Jr. works to get past the Sailors’ Nate Brinks.

South Christian had won 15 games in a row entering Friday, all by double digits. Summit gave the Sailors their closest game since losing to Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Jan. 24. 

“We’ve been on a run here, and even as a coach, I feel like I haven’t done enough because we haven’t been in these situations,” Johnson said. “What a battle, and that’s what it’s all about. Two great teams with a lot of great players, and we found a way.”

Senior Jake DeHaan, who led the Sailors with 14 points, said he embraces playing in these types of games.

“This is what our team talks about, adversity, and we want to play in the biggest moments,” DeHaan said. “As a competitor, that's what you want to do. You want to play on the biggest stage against the best teams, and that's what we like to do.”

In a defensive struggle with points hard to come by, the Sailors maintained the lead throughout.

The Sailors took a 19-13 advantage into the half, but the Dragons rallied and cut the deficit to 23-21 with a minute left in the third quarter.

Summit’s Dominic Krzesowiak drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to knot the score at 31-31 with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.

In overtime, Nate Brinks buried a 3-pointer for South Christian after Summit took its only lead of the game.

Junior Jake Vermaas, who finished with 12 points, then made 6 of 6 from the free throw line to keep Summit at bay.

“I just kept dribbling with my head up and knocking down free throws when we needed them,” Vermaas said. “Staying focused and locked in, and I think that’s a credit to being on a big stage like this in football and being comfortable.”

The Sailors, who won the Division 4 football championship in November, will search for their first basketball Finals title since 2005.

Summit Academy (25-3), which shot 35 percent (16-46) from the field, was playing in its first Semifinal.

“We expected it to be a defensive game and every possession to be tough,” Summit coach Mark White said. “We expected to be challenged to execute and to challenge them to execute.

“We knew it would come down to who executed the best and took advantage of their opportunities. We came to battle, and I’m very proud of our team and our program that we made it this far.”

James White led Summit with 13 points and seven rebounds. Krzesowiak finished with six points and six rebounds.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) South Christian’s Jake Vermaas (0) makes a move toward the basket during his team’s Division 2 Semifinal win. (Middle) Summit’s Dontez Scott Jr. works to get past the Sailors’ Nate Brinks.