Roseville High junior Isiah Collier-Foutz tries to drive by his defender during a Division 1 quarterfinal game against University of Detroit Jesuit March 12 at Calihan Hall. The Panthers ended the season with a 20-5 record.

Roseville High junior Isiah Collier-Foutz tries to drive by his defender during a Division 1 quarterfinal game against University of Detroit Jesuit March 12 at Calihan Hall. The Panthers ended the season with a 20-5 record.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Roseville High boys basketball season ends in D1 quarterfinal

By: Zachary Manning | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 15, 2019

Advertisement

ROSEVILLE –– It didn’t take long for Roseville High to walk off the court following its Division 1 quarterfinal loss to University of Detroit Jesuit at Calihan Hall.

And as the boys basketball team headed to the locker room, it would’ve been hard to think about anything other than what had just happened over the last two hours or so.

But when the dust had settled, coach Hassan Nizam was able to put some things into perspective. When he addressed his emotional locker room for the final time this season, he spoke of the journey, the sacrifices and all his team had been through to get to this moment.

It would’ve been hard to picture Roseville getting to a D-1 quarterfinal game as little as two years ago. The Panthers finished at 2-8 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division that year and gave up more points than they scored.

So just getting to the quarterfinal meant something. It was a glimpse of just how far the program has come over the last two seasons under Nizam, who took over as coach prior to the 2017-18 season.

“It’s unbelievable, because the way we started, nobody really knew who we were. It was just a team that finished in the bottom end of the MAC White, and there wasn’t really any expectations,” Nizam said. “Overall, these last two years have been special. I thanked the guys. I said, ‘You guys have taken this program to places that I never had dreamed that it could go this quickly.’”

Over the last two seasons, the Panthers have won the MAC Red (2019), the MAC Red/White Tournament (2018), two D-1 district titles and a regional title (2019), while collecting 36 wins.

And if you ask Nizam, he’ll tell you that the Panthers’ success over the last couple of years is a direct result of the guys he’s had in his program.

A big piece of the puzzle this season were his four seniors: De’Shaun Wright, Lazell Judge, Darien Banks and John Ukomadu. All four were starters, and Nizam credited them with helping build the program into what it is today.

“It’s got to be the best senior class that’s ever come through Roseville,” Nizam said. “What hurts me the most is I can’t coach those four seniors again, but it’s nice that I can be a part of their lives forever, through all the memories and the relationships that we’ve built.”

For now, the loss stings, but it doesn’t take away from everything the Panthers have accomplished in such a short period of time.

And despite the loss of four critical seniors, that success could continue into next year. Martell Turner, Ja’Heim Swaizey, Isiah Collier-Foutz and the rest of the returners have the opportunity to give the new-look Panthers another year of winning basketball.

“This is a tough one to swallow, but take it to the offseason with us, and we’ll see what we can do with it,” Nizam said.

Advertisement