September 21, 2014

Hitting the court

Au Gres-Sims basketball player gets nationally recognized

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Cassidy Boensch prepares to take a shot in Au Gres-Sims’ season opener against Posen on Dec. 6.
Kevin Bunch
Cassidy Boensch, 15, of Omer was featured in the Jan. 21 edition of Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” section for her play on the Au Gres-Sims varsity basketball team.
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Au GRES — Since she was an elementary school student, Omer resident Cassidy Boensch has been into playing basketball.

She may have just joined the Au Gres-Sims varsity basketball team this year, but the 6’3” center and power forward has already been noticed —and not just by sports observers from throughout the state, but by Sports Illustrated, which listed her as part of the “Faces in the Crowd” section, which showcases amateur athletes, in its Jan. 21 edition.

Cassidy was also named to the top 100 preseason players list by the Detroit Free Press, one of only two freshmen to receive that honor this year, and leads the state in rebounds. Cassidy has remained modest about the recognition, however.

“I never thought that would happen,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Cassidy said she first got into basketball in elementary school at the insistence of her brother, and has stuck with it.

“My brother pushed me to be better at it,” the 15-year-old Au Gres-Sims freshman said. “I started in fifth grade with the Mio League, and went up there every Sunday for three years.”

She eventually began participating in the Amateur Athletics League, which meets at Xpress Hoops in Midland, before joining the AGS team this season. She said as part of the AA league, she played teams from throughout Michigan — from Detroit, Grand Rapids, and elsewhere — as well as teams in Chicago and Cincinnati.

Her mother, Deb Boensch, serves as the AGS girls basketball coach, and said while she believed time with the league helped prepare Cassidy for the more intense play seen in varsity basketball, it was still a huge leap for her.

“Varsity is a major step up from eighth grade,” Cassidy said. “It’s way different. Every game has juniors and seniors that we play against, but the AA helped prepare me for that.”

Deb pointed out that four members of the AGS lineup, including Cassidy, are freshmen, with one sophomore, one junior, and one senior who is a transfer student rounding out the roster. As a result, much of the team has been in the midst of a crash course in varsity play, but Cassidy said she has already noticed improvement on the court since starting on the AGS team.

“I’ve gotten more aggressive, my dribbling has gotten better, and my knowledge of the game — my court sense — has improved,” Cassidy said.

While they are a young team, Cassidy said she’s expecting them to continue to improve.

“We’ve all been best friends since kindergarten, and we play together, and mesh well together,” she said. “We always have a lot of fun.”

Cassidy keeps busy off the court as well, and is involved, or plans to be involved, in volleyball, softball, track, the jazz band, a youth group, and is a member of the science olympiad. She is also practically a straight-A student, so she spends time keeping on top of her schoolwork.

“It’s tricky to figure out my schedule for each day,” she said.

Cassidy quipped that a recent game was rescheduled due to illnesses on the team left her with an evening free, and she was not quite sure what to do with herself.

Despite being a freshman, Cassidy has already gotten contacted by colleges that have heard about her skills on the court and in the classroom. Deb said Michigan State University and Central Michigan University have both seen her play, at the very least, and have had representatives check in to see how she is doing.

“I plan to continue,” Cassidy said. “If I get the opportunity (to play in college), I’d take it.”

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