Since his grandfather, brother, two uncles, and a cousin fared especially well while making baseball their primary sport, Jack Kusters decided to take the same route as a youngster.
But that changed prior to his sophomore year at Lansdale Catholic. "I was having back problems playing baseball, and I started liking basketball more," he said.
With the erstwhile shortstop leading the way on the hardwood, the Crusaders are still alive, albeit barely, in the hunt for a Catholic League playoff berth.
Kusters, a senior combination guard, registered 13 points and three boards as Lansdale Catholic turned back visiting Conwell-Egan, 60-54, in Monday night's crucial league contest.
With a 2-7 mark in league action, Kusters and company are vying with Bishop McDevitt (2-7), West Catholic (2-7), Father Judge (1-8), and Conwell-Egan (1-8) for the 10th and final postseason berth.
"I think the pressure makes us play better," Kusters said. "Nobody wants the season to end, so we're going all-out down the stretch."
Kusters, a second-year varsity member, is averaging a team-high 16 points in 18 games. The 5-foot-11, 150-pounder has buried 27 three-pointers.
"He's the kind of kid we've been trying to get into the program," Lansdale Catholic third-year coach Joe Corbett said. "He works year-round at improving his skills. Also, his leadership has been key this year."
The Crusaders (7-11 overall) are also trying to earn a spot in the PIAA Class 4A playoffs after falling short of that goal last season. Last year, Conwell-Egan (6-11) was the Catholic League's lone 4A representative and reached the second round of states.
Kusters netted 11 of his 13 points against Conwell-Egan in the first half. Midway through the fourth stanza, his nifty dish to Luke Godzieba resulted in a layup that gave the hosts a 54-51 edge.
Godzieba, a 6-6 senior forward, totaled 11 of his 21 points in the first stanza. He added 10 rebounds (two on offense), a block, a steal, and an assist. "We challenged him to be more aggressive and active around the basket, and that's what he did," Corbett said.
Nick Romeo, a 6-2 junior forward, chipped in 10 points and five boards; senior guard Mo Kahney managed eight points, five boards, and three assists; and senior guard Jimmy Boccella contributed six points and three steals off the bench.
"It's a battle every game at this point, and these kids love it," Corbett said. "They come and work hard every day in practice."
Kusters played for the Quakertown Youth Baseball Association (QYBA) and the Bucks County Baseball Academy (BCBA).
His uncles, Dan and Steve, shined as two-way players while sparking Archbishop Wood to Catholic League baseball titles in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Dan Kusters, who went on to play at Villanova, and Steve Marlow (Council Rock, Penn State) are co-directors of the BCBA.
Jack Kusters prepped for this season by playing AAU ball for the PA Runnin' Aces. The 18-year-old also trains with former North Penn standouts Jay Jameson (class of 1997) and Jay Joseph (2000), his AAU coach.