Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 22, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Pair really do rise above

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Browsers — Two newsmakers we can look up to, literally:

DANCING WITH OUR STAR – Six years ago she was stacking books in the school library. When basketball coach Jen Banker noticed that she could reach the top shelf without a ladder, she persuaded her to come out for basketball, although Cassie Oursler really thought softball was her sport.

At 1:30 this afternoon in Toledo, Ohio, a new chapter begins. Our erstwhile librarian checks out women’s basketball’s Big Dance, the NCAA tournament, lining up with Robert Morris against, good heavens, Notre Dame.

Cassie, who with several others led Grand Island to four consecutive sectional championships, quickly grew into her new role at Robert Morris, just this side of Pittsburgh. Her numbers rose game to game, she started 24 times and blocked 53 shots. The whole rest of the team blocked just 59.

Doug drew the long straw of covering her in several playoff games and found her to be the epitome of charm, grace and humility, and a pretty good interview, besides, clearly a young woman comfortable with words. She could score 25 points, pull down 25 rebounds and still find some reason that somebody other than her was responsible for the team’s success.

Doug was honored, too, to cover the first game Robert Morris ever played, in Erie in 1964. Few give the Colonials much chance against the Lady Irish, who average 87 points per game, but if you can go from the back stacks to the Big Dance in seven years, and know how you got there, anything is possible.

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY – Few Islanders made a greater impression than Lincoln Nutting, who last week ascended to the cloudland his white shock of hair so closely resembled. Like Cassie, he stood 6-foot-4 and moved with an elegant grace, even with a necklace of cameras.

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