SSHS grad becomes Cortland's top scorer
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“It meant a lot to me to do it on my home court, because when there was a pause in the game, I received a standing ovation from the crowd,” Winter said. “When I looked up at the crowd, I put my hand up to show that I did it, and that was not only a very emotional moment for me, but one that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Cortland beat Oneonta on Feb. 5 84-56.
Winter said he believes his choice of schools paid off, though he had a number of other options after graduating from South Side High School in 2009.
“I knew I wanted to pursue basketball in college,” he said. “I got recruited to two Division II schools, but they told me I wouldn’t be getting much playing time. I figured I’d rather go somewhere where I could have an impact right away.” Nearly 100 Division III schools recruited him, he said, but he “definitely chose the right place” with Cortland.
His coach, Tom Spanbauer, agreed. “We play in a very physical league, and Jesse has been the focus point of opposing teams’ defenses on a regular basis,” Spanbauer said. “His mental toughness, along with his high level of skill, has made him achieve such a great milestone.”
Winter will graduate in May with a degree in communications, but, he said, he plans to keep playing basketball as long as he can. “I’m not going into the real world just yet,” he said. “It’s looking like I’m going to play somewhere professionally overseas. One of the places I’d like to play is Israel, and I have some family there.”
Winter credited South Side High School, and other basketball programs in Rockville Centre, with nurturing his love for the game. “I definitely grew up in the program, not only as a player but as a person as well,” he said. “There’s a really great support base in Rockville Centre, where everybody is looking out for your best interests. It’s a great experience, a great tradition and program to grow up in. The program really made me love basketball.”