Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Special to The Oakland Press
There have been some pretty good point guards to play for the Birmingham Roeper boy's basketball team over the past two decades – we're talking about all-state, Division 1-bound bonafide hoop studs.  Senior floor general, Ryan Zinser, a four-year varsity starter, has been well on his way to joining the ranks of great backcourt leaders to don a Roughriders' uniform for quite some time now and on Monday night he officially cemented his name in the school's record books by delivering an historic double-double in the squad's 65-34 trouncing of Lutheran Westland.
Zinser scored 10 points and doled out a school record-tying 12 assists in the game. The Roughriders, sporting a senior-dominated roster, have looked in mid-season form throughout the first week of the new campaign and with Monday's home win push their overall and conference record to a perfect 3-0 (3-0 MIAC-Blue). Dominating play down the stretch with an array of heady exploits, Zinser scored five of his points and dished off seven of his assists in the game's final ten minutes.
A two-time all-conference selection already, Zinser knows what it takes to find success on the floor. He's the consummate point guard, possessing a high-on court IQ and outstanding leadership skills. The 5-9 spark-plug is a crafty playmaker and equally lethal scoring and distributing the basketball. As a junior last season, Zinser averaged 15 points, 6.5 assists, four rebounds and, two steals per game.
"He's our catalyst," said longtime Roeper head coach, Ernie Righetti. "I look to him as a coach on the floor and he does whatever we need him to do. If we need to him to score, he can do that. If we need him to control tempo and get everyone else involved he can do that too."
Righetti's hard-nosed senior captain is just the most recent in a long line of magnificent point guards to play for the 27th year head coach. Eric Righetti (Eastern Michigan/Albion), the coach's son, originally set the school's assist record in 1996, a season where he was named all-state by the AP, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News and led Oakland County in scoring. Rob Winkworth (Kalamazoo) and Jon Citrin (Tulane) started the program's rich tradition of point guards in the late-1980's and early-1990's and it was continued on through the new millennium by the likes of Royce McKinney (Bowling Green for football), Neil Ashmon (Kenyon College), and Eric Zinser, Ryan's older brother who graduated in 2006. Eric was named all-state and led the team to 19 wins and an appearance in the Class D Sweet Sixteen his senior season (via his miraculous buzzer-beating shot to beat Allen Park Cabrini in an '06 regional semi-final).
Roeper was sharp from the opening tip. Getting eight points in the first quarter by senior forward Cole Stasek, the Roughriders jumped out to a 15-1 lead. Sixth-man Tomas Jhashi (11 points, 5 rebounds) drilled two of his three 3-pointers in the second quarter and Roeper was in front 30-15 at halftime.  With the Roughriders' lead trimmed to 10 points at 37-27 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter, Zinser and running buddy Stasek took control and closed things out fast. Back-to-back buckets by Stasek in the paint – each courtesy of Zinser passes – brought the home crowd to its feet and pushed the Roeper lead back to 14.
Junior reserve Nick Robinson played a critical role in the Roughriders' late onslaught in which the team outscored its opponents 28-7 in the final quarter and a half of play. Taking a kick-out from Zinser on a baseline drive that drew the defense, Robinson sank a buzzer-beating 15-foot jumper to close out the third and make it a 45-29 Roeper advantage. Robinson tallied nine points on the night, all of which came in the second half.
Making quick work of the visitors in the game's closing stanza, sophomore, center Jack Gorland's offensive rebound and put-back started the fourth quarter and was promptly followed by five straight breathtaking points by Zinser – the first two on a nifty reverse lay-up in traffic and the final three on a acrobatic hoop, foul, and free throw.
When informed of his record-tying outing after the game, Zinser broke into a wide smile.
"I knew I had a few," he said with a wink and a smirk. "It was fun out there tonight and that's really what it's all about. The team feeds off me and my energy and it's my job to bring it every night. Being in my fourth year, I have a good feel for the pace of the game and that gives me the ability to mix it up. I know when I should pass it off and look to create for my teammates and I know when to attack the basket myself. It's been a nice opening week."
Stasek headlined the Roughriders' scoring effort with a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds.
"We're still fooling around with some line-ups and trying to find our exact player rotation, but it's been a solid start," said Righetti, in a near-empty gym following the game. "I have a little more depth with this group than I've had in the recent past and that gives us the opportunity to open things up a little more. It's still real early. There's a lot more season left to play."
Roeper host Dearborn Heights Annapolis on Friday for its next contest.


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