Last of high school
South prevails twice in U.P. All-Star Classic basketball
By RYAN SPITZA
Journal Sports Writer
MARQUETTE — The senior stars of the recently finished high school basketball season had the opportunity to don their varsity uniforms one final time.
They gathered at the Bothwell Middle School gym in Marquette on Saturday afternoon for the 33rd annual Upper Peninsula All-Star Basketball Classic.
In the opening girls game, the South team won 64-54 over the North, while in the boys encounter, the South again prevailed in a 97-88 decision.
The South’s Bethany Baldwin of Watersmeet claimed girls’ Most Valuable Player honors, scoring 20 points.
She said she and her teammates had good chemistry despite not having a lot of practice time.
“My team played really well together for being the first time playing together,” she said. “It was just so much fun.”
South head coach Dorene Ingalls of St. Ignace said she tried to let her players play their way while still keeping them motivated.
“The kids played their game,” she said. “We just try to encourage them to work as hard as they can, harder than they’ve worked before. They’ve got one last opportunity to wear their uniforms and they did that.
“Every single one of them played with all their heart and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Baldwin opened for the girls with a triple from the top of the key. Negaunee’s Natalie Bartle put the North side on the board with a corner jumper, but Baldwin came downcourt and scored from the top of the arc again to put the South up 6-2, a lead they would keep until early in the second half.
Just before halftime, the North scored six straight points on a 3-pointer by Bartle, 2-pointer by Ishpeming’s Mariah Austin and a Johnson free throw.
The North used that late first-half momentum out of the locker room, scoring the first six points of the third quarter on buckets by Johnson, Houghton’s Kara Pietila and Bartle to tie it 34-34.
After Ingalls called timeout, her team responded. Gladstone’s Taylor Hunter hit two free throws at the charity stripe and after the North missed two free throws at the other end, Baldwin hit another three to put the South up 39-34.
The South didn’t relinquish the lead, pulling away for the victory.
Linnie Gustafson of St. Ignace added nine points for the South, while teammates Hunter and Kingsford’s Jordyn Kriegl had seven each.
Bartle scored 16 points for the North while Johnson added 12.
In the boys game, Gladstone’s Brad Spindler took MVP honors, scoring 27 points. He said his team won the battles of size and mismatches.
“We knew they were bigger than us and we had mismatches on them and they had mismatches on us,” Spindler said. “I think we won our mismatches (today). It was a fun game.
“I thought about playing hard, going out there and doing everything I could for my team and it turned out good.”
The teams played a back-and-forth first quarter to a 24-24 draw.
The teams tied it four more times in the second quarter before the South pulled ahead on a bucket from Ryan Robinette of Escanaba and four free throws from Connor Ortman of Norway for a 51-47 halftime lead.
The South held onto the lead throughout the second half and maintained a comfortable gap for the victory.
Robinette tallied 22 points for the South while Rapid River’s Logan Hardwick had 15. The North was led by Witt with 26 points, while Paul had 14 and Dollar Bay’s Jaden Janke 13.
Though wearing a high school uniform for the final time, several players will be moving on to play collegiately.
Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren and Madigan Johns will be taking their talents to Northern Michigan University in the fall.
“It’s weird because it’s the last time,” Holmgren said. “I’ve played so many games with that jersey on and it’s a weird feeling…. It represents all I’ve been through in my high school career.”
Johns said she’ll miss her coaches as well as being a role model for the Hematites.
“It felt great,” she said. “Playing with every girl was special. I’m definitely going to miss our coaching staff a lot and the younger girls who are coming up.”
Johnson will continue her career at Michigan Tech University and is excited for the fresh start with recently hired head coach Sam Hoyt.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “When we heard who was replacing (former coach Kim Cameron), she seems like an awesome person.”
Marquette’s Stasha Warchock was happy to put the Redettes jersey on one final time, but will miss playing against her high school friends and opponents as she’ll continue playing at Alma College.
“I love putting this jersey back on,” she said. “I love that all of us played super hard. Even though not all of us are going to play college, we all played our hearts out (today).”
Gwinn’s Tierra Taylor will play for Bay College and said it was nice to play with some former teammates on Saturday.
“It was nice and I really like playing with girls I’ve never played with before,” she said. “Lots of them I actually got to play LevelUP with them and six girls from the South team are coming to play at Bay with me.”
Ishpeming’s Mariah Austin will also be playing at Lakeland College in Wisconsin, while Bartle will be at Colorado Mesa.
Email Ryan Spitza at email@example.com.