Newberry’s Bryant, Munising’s Mattson lead teams in girls Classic

Taylor Bryant, left, of Newberry accepts the MVP trophy from Kathy Shamion of Wakefield after the girls basketball game at the Upper Peninsula All-Star Classic on Saturday at Marquette Senior High School. Shamion is executive director of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, which puts on the annual games. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — Taylor Bryant of Newberry put on a performance befitting a basketball MVP to lead the North to victory at the Upper Peninsula All Star Classic at Marquette Senior High School on Saturday afternoon.

Bryant led the North in scoring with 13 points in the North’s 63-50 victory.

But she said the experience was more about the relationships built with temporary teammates.

“It was a lot of fun,” Bryant said. “I was hoping we would win, both teams had really great girls and it was fun to play with a high-caliber group.

“I’m used to playing against these girls, and sometimes we’ve had pickup games over the years. But it was nice to meet new girls as well, and we really meshed well together.”

Though rebounds weren’t recorded, Bryant came up with a huge diving rebound in the final minute of the game, even though the score was out of reach.

Engadine head coach Roger French, who served as the South head coach, said the play in the game’s closing moments showed the work ethic of Bryant, who’s committed to Lake Superior State for the upcoming season.

“She’s a workhorse,” French said. “She moves the ball and isn’t afraid to dive 15 feet at the end of the game. That’s what I’ve been coaching against the last four years, but it was nice having her with us this time.”

Another player who played aggressively in the exhibition matchup was Munising’s Frankie Mattson, who led South scorers with 15 points.

“It was a way faster pace from the regular season,” Mattson said. “Everyone’s confident in their skills. No matter what the game is, I’ve always just tried to go hard and do my best, then see what the outcome is at the end.”

The North held an 11-7 lead after one quarter, then extended it to 10 points by halftime.

Bryant scored nine of the North’s 29 first-half points, and said the day of practice on Friday helped her team get in sync and open up their games.

“I like to win and I’m really competitive,” Bryant said. “I felt I needed to put it all out there for my girls.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. It was nice to have everyone on the same page and know what we were doing.”

The South never really recovered in the second half, as the North had three girls reach double-digits in scoring, including Bryant, Calumet’s Hailey Wickstrom, who had 12 points, and Pickford’s Kayla Rambo, with 11.

For South scorers, Mattson was followed by Escanaba’s Jeny Brandt with seven points and Forest Park’s Abby Nyland with six.

Mattson, who has committed to play at Alma College this winter, said the game was a great experience.

“It was really fun playing with all these great athletes,” she said. “It was easier passing the ball with everyone knowing where I would be and knowing where they would be. The whole day was a lot of fun and a good way to end (my high school career).”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is