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Stevenson's Connor Cashaw (35) and Elgin's Ryan Sitter (14) scrap for a loose ball during the third quarter of their game at the Bison Classic Thanksgiving Tournament in Buffalo Grove Tuesday. November 20, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Stevenson sophomore forward Connor Cashaw is tall, long and lanky. Senior point guard Justin Berkson isn’t.
Cashaw scores, soars and slashes. Berkson doesn’t.
But for all of their aesthetic and stylistic differences, the two need each other equally. They are both one half of the Patriots’ biggest weapon on offense.
“We’re a run-and-gun team,” Berkson said, “We want to push the ball forward. I push it up, find the openings, and guys like Connor finish it.”
Cashaw is the knockout haymaker to Berkson’s tactical jab. The pair attack the game of basketball in dissimilar ways — one with an uncanny ability to score points, the other with the ability to do everything else — but they are linked by the simplest of basketball goals: winning.
In Stevenson’s game against Christian Liberty on Nov. 21, Cashaw and Berkson played their roles to perfection. Cashaw led the team with 12 points, while Berkson had eight assists and no turnovers.
The Patriots won in a 64-41 rout.
“Connor is a very hard worker, very coachable, and he is such an efficient scorer,” coach Pat Ambrose said. “Justin runs the show for us. He calls out the sets, he handles the ball really well, and he makes everyone’s job a little easier.”
Perhaps what makes the Cashaw-Berkson connection so potent is that they share the same mentality and demeanor. Both players are soft-spoken and quick to direct praise in the other’s direction.
“Justin is so important to this team, we follow his lead out there,” Cashaw said. “He’s not the biggest guy on the court, but he’s probably the fastest, and he does his thing on offense. But on defense he’s just a hawk, he takes people out of their games.”
Berkson, likewise, had nothing but the best to say about his running mate.
“I think he’s the most athletic guy on our team,” Berkson said. “He’s such a great scorer, and I know when I get the ball in his hands he’ll make good things happen.”
Both players stressed that their relationship is one that transcends the confines of basketball. Cashaw called Berkson “family,” and the point guard reciprocated by saying Cashaw is “one of his best friends.”
“This team has come together well on and off the court,” Ambrose said. “We have a lot to improve on, but in terms of camaraderie, we’ve done a great job.” ~.