DCC Moves Up From 2nd Last Year to 1st This Time with Sizzling Saturday

By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com

June 11, 2022

BIG RAPIDS – A comeback didn’t seem possible.

But then again, as the saying goes, in sports anything can happen.

Last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 champ Ann Arbor Skyline was cruising along with a 10-shot lead over last year’s runner up, Detroit Catholic Central, with only four holes to play Saturday at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Course.

That’s when the switch got flipped.

The DCC team – including star Peter Stassinopoulos – had been playing better than most, but at that point not well enough to overcome Skyline’s first-day lead.

But the senior finished the day at 2-under par 70, by way of a sizzling run of 5-under par on the last four holes (birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie) to lead his team to a huge comeback win over Skyline with a Saturday team score (top four golfers) of 2-under par 286 to Skyline’s 293. The final margin was 587-589 for the two-day Division 1 Final tournament.

“I’ve been saying this to myself the last couple of weeks, ‘pedal to the metal,’ regardless of where I’m at, and regardless of who is around you, or what they tell you, or what the conditions are,” Stassinopoulos said, soon after getting a dousing of ice water out of a cooler by his teammates during a TV interview. “I saw my coach’s face on 14, and he didn’t look too happy. And I just knew that we either had to finish strong or at least put a good game face on. I didn’t know where we stood (team scoring), but I made the right swings and our team got it done.”

DCC coach Mike Anderson described the final 45-60 minutes of play like this:

Anderson said that he was at the 15th tee box, a par 3. Skyline was 10 strokes up at that time.

“I was talking with the Skyline coach there and I didn’t say congratulations (you won), but I said, ‘It’s been fun watching your team today. You’ve played really solid all day.’

“Then our Liam (Casey) hit it in there to one foot and tapped it in for birdie. The next guy hits it in there close and makes birdie, the next guy makes par. And every time we’re doing that the Skyline guys are making bogies.”

Anderson went to the 16th hole, where his players were making birdies on that par 5 hole, after Stassinopoulos made an eagle. By the time both teams were going through the 17th tee, the team scoring was tied.

Ann Arbor Skyline golf“No. 17 is not an easy hole. It’s a 170-yard par 3 over water, hard left-to-right pin,” Anderson said. “Then Liam, Peter and Neil (Zhu) all hit it inside 10 feet, and they all make the putt for birdie. So, all of a sudden we’re leading, and the guys finished 18 strong.”

Skyline sophomore Ieuan Jones played solid and steady to win individual medalist, after a runner-up showing last year as a freshman. He scored 69-69-138 to win by six strokes over junior Andrew Daily of Brighton and East Lansing sophomore Drew Miller.

Jones said he can never be disappointed by winning a tournament, which he’s done many times in his short career.

“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get it done as a team, but I’m happy I left everything out there,” Jones said as players and teams were gathering around the scoreboard. He said the key is always the drivers and putter, and if those are going well it’s all good.

“I was making sure that I stayed focused on every single shot,” Jones added. “I knew the team scoring was going to come down to some pretty close numbers, so I was making sure I did what I could.”

Jones was very cognizant of the strong winds blowing across Katke. The wind picked up in the afternoon when he was playing the back nine with more tree-lined fairways providing some protection – that same back nine where the winning Shamrocks team poured it on. The runner-up finish to Skyline last year was a huge motivation for DCC’s golfers.

Neil Zhu was DCC’s top individual finisher over the two days, tying for fourth at 145 (73-72). Stassinopoulos tied for sixth at 146 (76-70), Julian Mesner was eighth at 147 (74-73) and Casey tied for ninth at 149 (78-71) while also shooting under par for his second round.

“Going off the first tee, I knew they’ve got one (title) under their belts, and just want another one,” Stassinopoulos said. “And we really wanted our first for this groups of guys. We’re out there day and night, rain, no rain, and I think this group of boys deserve it.”

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PHOTOS (Top) DCC’s Peter Stassinopoulos sends an approach shot during Saturday’s LPD1 Final at Katke. (Middle) An Ann Arbor Skyline golfer tees off during the second round. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Pinili Aiming to Add Medalist Honor as Brother Rice Seeks Finals 3-Peat

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

June 8, 2023

The phrase the “third time is a charm” might often be trite and overplayed, but it also couldn’t apply more to Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice senior golfer Lorenzo Pinili.

Greater DetroitTwo years ago as a sophomore, Pinili finished as the individual runner-up at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final, five shots out of first at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek.

Last year, Pinili was the runner-up again at Grand Valley State, valiantly rallying from an opening-round score of 76 to shoot a 68 on the second day at The Meadows, but still ending six shots behind.

Both years, Brother Rice won the team title, so Pinili still left happy.

But no doubt, he hopes the third time will be the charm from an individual point of view when he competes at this weekend’s Division 2 Final at The Fortress in Frankenmuth.

“This year, I definitely have a lot more motivation to finish first,” he said. “It’s a lot of patience. That’s what it is. I just have to trust my game and not really force anything. That’s what most people try to do. If they know they want to get a win or know they want to play well, they’re going to start forcing shots that’s out of their comfort zone or do stuff they don’t really do.”

Pinili, who will play collegiately at Michigan State, has been hitting a lot of good shots throughout a golfing life that started when he was 2 years old. 

In fact, while Pinili has no recollection of the moment he took up the game, his father Rommel has reminded him constantly throughout his life.

“He said that I picked up a stick while the TV was on and I tried to copy what was on TV,” Pinili said. “From there, he gave me a plastic club, and he gave me real balls. He thought I was making good contact. From there, he gave me real metal clubs, and I was able to hit balls. There’s actually a video on YouTube that you can find of me hitting golf balls at the range when I was 2. From there, it’s been with me my whole entire life.”

Pinili said if there’s one area of his game that has evolved more than any other since he began high school, it’s performing when the stakes are the highest.

The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right

Brother Rice associate coach David Sass echoed those sentiments about Pinili’s enhanced ability to stay even-keeled mentally under pressure.

“He has a tendency to have such a high level of expectation for his game, that can kind of prohibit him from looking beyond a simple mistake,” he said. “He’s been really good about doing that lately. Golf is very hard, and it’s really about managing your mistakes. Perfection is basically unattainable in golf. If he stays patient, understands that, picks his spots on when to be aggressive, is aggressive in that moment, and then plays it smart during moments he shouldn’t be aggressive, I think he’s got an incredible chance to win this thing.”

One of the biggest competitors for Pinili this weekend could be someone in the same household.

Leandro Pinili, a sophomore, finished in a tie for ninth last year at the LPD2 Tournament, and definitely helps push Lorenzo to greater heights in the game.

“We share a lot of passion with the game together, and sometimes it gets a little too competitive just because he wants to beat me and I can’t let him beat me,” Lorenzo said. “It’s really nice having someone besides me who understands the side of golf that I understand. It’s also really fun being able to play with my brother and compete with him. I really love it, and that’s one of the biggest things I’m going to miss about Brother Rice golf.”

And no doubt, Brother Rice will definitely miss Lorenzo Pinili when he finishes his high school career on Saturday at a course he is looking forward to playing because it will require precise shots.

“I think it will separate the best from the rest of the pack,” he said. “You really can’t get away with anything out there.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) Brother Rice's Lorenzo Pinili, right, tees off during the 2022 LP Division 1 Finals as Grand Rapids Christian's Adam Workman follows his shot. (Middle) The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right). Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)