Cousino coach Lee takes team to new heights
Warren – The constant theme coach Mike Lee stressed at Warren Cousino’s basketball practice was to pick up the intensity, remember how we got here, play for each other and even though it’s history remember those who paved the way.
The past is the past but from Lee to the families and players who built this program to where it is today those names still resonate with the current team.
And part of the Cousino family is what they do together off the court that adds to the bond that’s exist on it.
As an example, Cousino continued its annual adopt a family for Christmas.
“It’s a special program, where we give back and realize how fortunate we are,” Lee said. “Basketball is important but so is community involvement."
Lee took over seven seasons ago and has won five district championships and over 100 games in that time.
This season the team won the school’s first regional girls basketball regional title. Last Thursday defeated two-time defending state champion Birmingham Marian, 49-39, at Roseville.
Cousino (20-4) will play Northville (21-3) in a Class A quarterfinal at Southfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Lee told State Champs he has to be the most blessed coach in the state.
"We have at least six players who carry a 4.0 GPA and the rest of the team also carries a high grade average," he said. "No doubt it also translates over to the basketball court.”
Many former players keep in touch. For instance former Cousino star Bethany McCord was at Saturday’s practice. She spoke to the team and gave them words of encouragement.
“No matter how many games and championships you win,” McCord said. “The last game is the one you will remember the most, go out on Tuesday, take care of business and leave nothing on the court."
Lee added to McCord’s words.
“We must keep the intensity level high especially on defense which got us here,” he said.
Cousino shared the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title with Port Huron Northern and played a competitive nonleague schedule.
Lee said his team must step up their game to another level to reach the state semifinals.
"Once you get to the elite eight all teams are solid and we are facing a really great team in Northville,” he said.
The lone senior, Mackenzie Anderson, told the team to play and win for the team, not for her just because she’s a senior.
“This is truly about Cousino past and present," Anderson said.
Anderson is 5-6 but plays in the front court. She’s one of the most underrated players in Macomb County. She averages 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Anderson relishes doing whatever it takes to win, being the vocal leader and has high praise for Lee.
"He’s made me a better player," she said. “The tough practices, the encouragement and the respect for those who played at Cousino make me all the better player.”
Other top players include freshman guard Kate McArthur who has made 65 3-pointers and is shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
"It’s a great family feeling here,” she said. “I have followed this team since I was about five. Coach Lee has made it such a great and fun place to be."
McArthur could not stop talking about her sister Erin, a junior who missed the entire season due to an injury.
"I want to win this for my sister,” McArthur said. “Even though she has another year, I wanted to play with her so bad. This is for all the past teams, Mackenzie and especially my sister.”
The team remembered 2015 only too well after a successful regular season only to lose in the district final to Sterling Heights.
"We dedicated ourselves to not only win a district, but take this team to newer heights after last season,” junior Kierra Fletcher said. “We want to remember those players who helped mold this program to where it is today. We still have a lot of unfinished business. We can’t rest until we complete the dream.
“We also are so grateful for the alumni support, hearing from them that goes a long way to keeping us hungry. Although it’s been a tremendous run we have to be prepared for Northville who like us, won their first regional, and are an outstanding team.”