Big dreamers on the Dream Team

Westwood’s Koski, Leece, Marquette’s Ledy make up best-of-U.P. quintet

Westwood Patriot Madelyn Koski, right, looks for a pass while being gaurded by Houghton Hancock Bulldog Kristen Dennis during their game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — It’s hard enough for a basketball program to land one player on the All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team, let alone two.

However, two players is what the Westwood girls team did Tuesday at the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association annual basketball meeting held Tuesday in Marquette.

Junior guards Tessa Leece and Madi Koski earned two of the five spots as the Patriots’ tandem was joined by Marquette senior Avery Ledy after she helped lead the Redettes to an MHSAA Division 1 district title.

Leece and Koski each averaged more than 15 points per game, made more than 40 percent of their shots from the field and made more than 80 percent from the free throw line.

Leece was named West PAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and Mid-Peninsula Conference Player of the Year, while Koski made the West PAC Dream Team and M-PC First Team.

In addition, they both competed at the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Top Shooter Challenge competition again during the MHSAA state finals.

“Some people out there said ‘I don’t know if you’ll get two Dream Teamers’ and I’m super happy for them just to get the recognition for all the hard work that they put in,” said their head coach, Westwood’s Kurt Corcoran. “Nobody puts in more time than they do. Maybe there’s girls who put in the same amount, but these girls work 365 days a year.

“Given our record in the U.P. and our overall record and our accolades this year, I think they were deserving. Given their stats, given our strength of schedule, I think they were the two best players in the U.P.

“We have a record to show for it. Often times, girls get recognized for these awards, but maybe their team didn’t have the same success and given our team’s success, I thought they were very deserving.”

While the Patriots pair dominated the backcourt, Ledy used her combined talented near the basket and skills on the perimeter to have a solid year for the Redettes.

Ledy averaged 15 ppg and snatched 11 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent on 3-point shots. As a result, she was named Great Northern Conference Player of the Year before topping off her high school career with a Dream Team nod.

“She’s a really good combination of what you want in a player,” Marquette head coach Ben Smith said. “Her junior year, she was more in the post offensively for us and defensively.

“She had trouble with some back problems last year and then finally got diagnosed … this year. They found she had a couple fractures in her lower back and some vertebrae that they said probably happened within the last few years. But it had been so long, they couldn’t really do anything to help her. So short of just shutting her down for like six months, they said to just handle the pain and play through it.

“I thought she did well, but we kept her out of the post a little because of that and because she’s got the skill set, she can go out on the wing and play.

“Last year, I thought she was one of the best post players in the area, but this year, she shot 40 or so percent during the regular season from 3. So we were able to use that along with Sydney (Kivi) and Maddie (Carter) in the post to have our most flexible lineup.

“She’s got the skill set and mindset to do whatever her team needs to help us win.”

When asked if he though Ledy could play at the college level, Smith felt confident that she has the ability to do so.

“She definitely could and I’ve been in contact with a few people the last couple of days,” he said. “She was not signed and set to go to Tech, but she had some things going on there. She’s still talking with them, I believe, and a few other schools in the GLIAC have been in touch.

“I definitely think that she’s got the game to fit in with a lot of schools no matter what they need, whether it be kind of that post presence or that post presence that can step outside and shoot it and play away from the bucket.

“I think when it’s all said and done and if that’s what she wants to do, someone is going to be getting a steal with a late signing from Avery.”

Leece, Koski and Ledy were joined on the Dream Team by West Iron County’s Eden Golliher and St. Ignace’s Emily Coveyou.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.