WILKES-BARRE – Even in a game filled with the top senior boys basketball players from the Wyoming Valley Conference, the energy and athleticism of Michael Cusatis clearly stood out.
Cusatis has completed his high school and AAU careers at Hazleton Area and JB Hoops, but whether his last high school game was his final competitive basketball game remains unclear. The senior, who specializes in the 400-meter run, has just began his final season of high school track and field and is not sure which of the two sports he will continue into college.
The speed and stamina combination necessary for the 400 were on display at the same time Cusatis showed off his basketball skills March 31 at the 48th annual Dr. George P. Moses Wyoming Valley Conference All-Star Classic.
“Even in practice, you could tell he loves playing the game,” said Pittson Area’s Alan Kiesinger, one of Cusatis’ two coaches in the game. “It shows on the floor.”
A fast-paced game to start, Cusatis pushed the pace even higher each time he was on the floor.
When it was over, Cusatis shared Most Valuable Player honors for Team Kersey/Kiesinger in a 112-104 loss to Team Toole/Atherton.
An all-star game is an ideal setting for Cusatis’ skills, who showed through just fine in the regular season when he was a big part of Hazleton Area’s Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 and District 2 Class 6A championships.
“I like to be flashy and this is the perfect time to show it off,” Cusatis said.
The flash could not hide how hard Cusatis was playing while having fun.
Despite being a point guard, he was the game’s leading rebounding, flying high to pull down 12 rebounds.
Cusatis scored the game’s first basket just seven seconds in on a drive.
Midway through the half, he returned and quickly erased an eight-point deficit by turning the rebounds into the points. He scored on a drive off an offensive rebound, then took a defensive rebound the other way before pulling up for the tying 3-pointer.
“I was trying to put on a show,” said Cusatis, who hit 7 of 11 shots while finishing with 16 points and 2 assists. “I was definitely trying to keep the energy high in this game and keep the crowd involved.”
Cusatis accomplished that goal in a nearly packed gym at Holy Redeemer High School.
Still ahead for Cusatis is a decision whether to attend Wilkes and play Division III basketball or pursue track and field options in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference or on the Division I level at Rider. He was a District 2 Class 3A silver medalist in the 400 last year.
“My doors are still open with track and basketball,” he said. “I’ll have to decide in the next month.”