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, February 23, 2010

Riding High


When it came to league titles, Birmingham Roeper boys basketball head coach, Ernie Righetti, had a pretty nice go of it in his first decade or so at the helm of the Roughriders' hoops program. Between 1984 and 1995, Righetti's boys cagers claimed a remarkable NINE conference crowns. Then the well went dry. Despite flourishing in post-season play like never before and taking home six district championships in 12 years, coming into the current campaign, Righetti and his Roeper hoop squad had not raised a league title banner in fifteen years.
That all changed late last week. With the Roughriders defeating Grosse Pointe University Liggett 74-67 in overtime on Thursday night and then Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest following suit and beating Liggett on Friday night, Roeper broke the draught and clinched its first Michigan Independent Athletic Conference championship since 1995. The team currently sits with a 15-2 with two weeks to play in the regular season.
The win against a very good Liggett team (at the point second place in the MIAC Blue) on Thursday broke a two game-losing streak for the Roughriders and was the second down-to-the-wire victory Righetti's squad has earned over the Knights this season. Not surprisingly it was two-time all-conference stud point guard, Ryan Zinser, who was primarily responsible for both dramatic Roeper wins.
In their first meeting in January, Zinser went coast-to-coast to put in a game-winning lay-up at the buzzer to win it for the 'Riders. On Thursday, the 5-9 fireplug of a floor general did his best Isaiah Thomas impression while leading his team back from a 15 point second half deficit. Down by six points with less than eight seconds to play, Zinser drained back-to-back three pointers, the second of which just beat the final horn, to send the game into overtime. He then assisted on senior forward Cole Stasek's game-winning three point-play with less than 10 seconds to play in the OT period.
Zinser finished with 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals in the game. On the season, he is averaging 18 points, six assists, six rebounds, and three steals per contest. Stasek recorded a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Earlier this season, Zinser surpassed the 1000 point plateau for his four year varsity career.
The success experienced by Zinser on the floor the past four seasons should come to no surprise to those who follow the Roeper athletic scene – Clutch play runs in the blood of all Zinser family boys. Eric Zinser, Ryan's older brother, is one of the best hoopers to ever play at the small school bball stalwart. As a senior, Eric led his team to a 20-4 season and a district championship. His buzzer-beating lay-up in the 2006 regionals, eerily similar to Ryan's game-winner against Liggett back in January, propelled the Roughriders into the Class D Sweet Sixteen for the first time in over a decade.
Righetti has over 650 career win in his coaching career and is one of the few coaches in the state who still coach both boys and girls. Taking over the girls program in 1982 and the boys in 1984, Righetti is one of the most respected coaches in the area and known for running one the most-fundamentally sound programs around.
The 1995 team finished 18-5 and bowed in the regional final to eventual state champion, Detroit Holy Redeemer by three points.


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