Pair of Miners join Ishpeming player on 2nd Team

Ishpeming’s Madison Pruett, left, drives to the basket against Iron Mountain’s Hanna Ellis on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Iron Mountain, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

MARQUETTE — Three area seniors closed out their high school careers by earning quality awards Tuesday at the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association annual basketball meeting.

Negaunee’s Kenzie Karki and Abby Nelson as well as Ishpeming’s Madison Pruett were named to the All-U.P. Division 1-2-3 Second Team after solid seasons.

Karki, who also received a few First Team votes, was a West PAC Dream Team selection and made the Mid-Peninsula Conference First and Defensive teams.

She averaged 10.2 points per game, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals while shooting 41.3 percent from the field.

Miners head coach Brandon Sager praised Karki for her work ethic and constant competitive spirit.

“She was the one player who was ready to go every single night for us as soon as she stepped on the floor,” Sager said. “She was often our spark plug and during some games, she’d kind of put us on her back and willed us to wins.

“She’s a highly competitive player and she did a good job preparing herself for this season. She came in and was ready to go night in and night out.

“Her energy is really what did it for us and with that competitive spirit, she’s going to go down swinging.”

Nelson was both a West PAC Iron Division and M-PC First Teamer, averaging 11.5 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists.

“Abby is another one who is very competitive, and this year, I think she rounded (out) her game a little bit,” the Negaunee coach said. “Her statistics in a lot of categories came up. Being a four-year varsity player, she made big shots when we needed them or grabbed a big rebound when we needed it.

“She is very versatile. She can go inside or go outside and there’s not a lot of dual threats around. That was one thing that made her hard to guard because she could post people up, but if she had a big player on her, she could take them outside and was able hit those shots.

“It always seemed like whenever we needed a key rebound in a game, she’d bring it down for us.”

Sager said he’s going to miss both players as the tandem brought something different to Negaunee’s roster.

“Abby has been with me for four years and Kenzie for three, so they’ve been an integral part of the building process of our program,” he said. “Abby actually set the school record this year with 70 wins as a player.

“I think her conference record in the Mid-Pen was like 44-4.

“Kenzie’s spirit is definitely something we won’t have for awhile. She just kind of makes you smile with some of her comments and some of her actions. So those things will definitely be missed as well as her work ethic.”

Finally, Pruett made a strong case for herself in Ishpeming, averaging 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds, but what she was known for was being lights out from beyond the arc, knocking down 59 3-pointers.

Pruett’s deadly shooting is what sets her apart, according to Ishpeming head coach Ryan Reichel.

“She made 59, and I’m pretty sure the only other person that might have touched that would’ve been (Westwood guard) Madi Koski and that’s because she got three more games than her,” Reichel said. “Having a year of that caliber where teams were geared toward stopping her, and being on a team that was limited offensively, showed her ability to create scoring opportunities even though every team’s goal was to stop her from shooting.”

Reichel added that Pruett’s leadership qualities will also be missed.

“She took the opportunity to be a leader on a young team,” he said. “A team that had graduated five seniors the year before and had no starters returning. She was our most vocal girl that really had to pick the team up and put them on her shoulders and show them how varsity basketball is played.

“I think she did a really good job because by the end of the season, we were starting to look like a pretty good basketball team.”

The other spots on the Second Team were filled by Bark River-Harris’ Hailee Demers and Cassidi Stannard, Menominee’s Emma Anderson, Sault Ste. Marie’s Ashtyn Bell, Ironwood’s McKenzie Boyd, Escanaba’s Lexi Chaillier and Kingsford’s Brooke Kriegl.

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