Dowagiac senior Joey Pasternak’s play off the bench has helped the Chieftains fashion a 9-1 record this season. (Leader photo/File)

Archived Story

Pasternak finds, fills his role

Published 1:58pm Thursday, January 24, 2013

When facing the Dowagiac boys basketball team, opponents probably don’t spend a lot of time putting together a game plan to stop Joey Pasternak.

But that doesn’t lessen the value of Pasternak to the Chieftains.

“If Joey didn’t fulfill his role we’d have a difficult time winning,” said Dowagiac boys basketball coach Danum Hunt.

Entering this week, Dowagiac owned a 9-1 overall record and stood alone at the top of the Wolverine Conference West Division standings with a 4-0 mark.

Pasternak, who’s the first player off the Dowagiac bench, has helped his team get off to a fast start because of his versatility.

The 5-foot-10 senior is averaging six points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals a game for the Chieftains.

“He has the potential to be a starter,” Hunt said. “He gives us valuable minutes. He does the intangible things that aren’t in boxscores. He’ll guard a tough player on another team or get a rebound for us. He’s a blue-collar worker, who’ll grind and compete. He’ll do whatever it takes to help us pull out a win.”

In a recent three game stretch against Edwardsburg, Plainwell and Berrien Springs, Pasternak scored nine points in each game.

“Joey has the ability to be a double-digit scorer,” Hunt said. “But with his role, he’d rather defer to other players.”

During his two years on the Dowagiac varsity, Pasternak has never started a game. But don’t expect Pasternak to complain about his bench role. Instead, he thrives being in that position.

“I like coming off the bench and providing a spark,” said Pasternak. “I wasn’t very confident in my offense until this year. My strength is my defense. But my main thing is team success. I’m not really into individual goals.

“I think we’re starting to come together as a team and a family. The more we become a family the more we’ll feel comfortable together and we’ll trust each other more on the court.”

Pasternak’s strongest sport isn’t basketball. He was a first team All-Wolverine Conference selection this year playing sweeper. He plans on continuing his soccer career in college.

But success as a soccer player never caused Pasternak to stop playing basketball.

“My dad (John) was a basketball coach,” Pasternak said. “He got me into it and I fell in love with it. It was also a good way to stay in shape for soccer season.”

Pasternak feels that playing soccer has helped become a better basketball player.

“I have good footwork because of soccer and that helps me play better defense as a basketball player,” Pasternak said.

Pasternak has even a greater focus when it comes to his work in the classroom. He’s a high honors student with a 3.5 grade-point average. He’d like to major in law enforcement in college and eventually be a police officer.

“I take my class work seriously,” Pasternak said.


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