Coaches name their best

Area basketball players earn BCAM awards in multiple categories

Munising's Cade Contreras, right, makes a pass around the perimeter to a teammate with North Central's Bobby Kleiman defending during the first half of their Skyline Central Conference boys basketball game played at the Mustangs' gym on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)

MARQUETTE — Led by four players named as BCAM’s Best, a number of area high school basketball players received recognition in awards handed out recently by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.

Munising High School had two honorees, including the only boy, with one each coming from Ishpeming and Negaunee. All four are in their senior years.

The honorees are the Mustangs’ Cade Contreras for Class D boys, Munising’s Kianne Wendt for Class D girls, and Negaunee’s Natalie Bartle and Ishpeming’s Madigan Johns for Class C girls.

Another nine area players made BCAM honorable mention lists.

They are Marquette junior Avery Ledy for Class A girls; Negaunee junior Jason Waterman for Class C boys; Westwood sophomore Madelyn Koski, Ishpeming senior Mariah Austin and Negaunee senior Clara Johnson for Class C girls; Republic-Michigamme senior River Shumate and Munising senior Alec Blank for Class D boys; and Superior Central senior Emma Rondeau and Munising junior Michaela Werner for Class D girls.

Another 21 players made these lists from other Upper Peninsula schools.

They are all players who were nominated by coaches who are BCAM members.

The association is open to high school and collegiate coaches in the state, providing opportunities similar to other professional organizations.

One of the perks is being eligible to nominate players for their statewide awards.

This year, the group placed 10 players statewide in its Best of the Best category, with another 20 to 25 in the BCAM’s Best for each of Class A, B, C and D, and an additional 30 to 40 in the honorable mentions for each class.

This is just one of nearly a dozen categories that the BCAM recognizes players and coaches.

Earlier this spring, the group named Team Academic All-State squads, sponsored the Top Shooters Challenge at the state finals, and named Mr. and Miss Basketball for Michigan.

Here is a rundown on area players recognized with other BCAM awards:

BCAM Top Shooters

Marquette County has become a hotbed of girls’ free-throw shooting, with four of the top 10 teams in the state coming from here.

Coach Ryan Reichel’s Ishpeming squad won the state’s all-class girls team honor by a wide margin, making 78.35 percent on 228 out of 291.

Runner-up Negaunee was at 72.54 percent (214 of 295), with Westwood fourth at 71.43 percent (220-308) and Marquette seventh at 68.35 percent (244-357).

Individually, the Miners’ Natalie Bartle was No. 1 in the state at 88.75 percent (71 of 80), with the Hematites’ Madigan Johns third at 87.38 percent (90-103) and the Patriots’ Madelyn Koski fourth at 86.54 percent (90-104).

In long-range shooting, the Westwood girls were third in the state in 3-point shooting by making 35.80 percent (87 of 243), led by eighth-place individual Tessa Leece at 45.07 percent (32-71). Ishpeming was 10th at 31.27 percent (101-323).

Only one area player made the boys lists, but he was unique as Negaunee sophomore Jason Waterman was top 10 in both free throws and 3-pointers.

Waterman tied for fifth in free throws at 87.50 percent (56 of 64) and was 10th in 3-pointers at 46.27 percent (31-67).

He led the Miners to third place in team 3-point shooting at 37.76 percent (108 of 286), less than a half-percent behind state leader Troy’s 38.11 percent.

From elsewhere in the U.P., Menominee made the top 10 in girls 3-point shooting and Gladstone the top 10 in both boys free throws and 3-pointers.

Academic All-state

Three of the area girls making the BCAM’s Best lists are appear among the BCAM Academic All-State selections.

Nominees must be a junior or senior, have a grade-point average of 3.50 and be listed all-state either by the Associated Press, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press or BCAM.

The three also on BCAM’s Best are Kianne Wendt of Munising, Madigan Johns of Ishpeming and Clara Johnson of Negaunee.

Six area players in all are on the lists, five girls. They are Hart Holmgren, Ishpeming senior, 3.92 GPA; Johns, 3.55; Johnson, 4.00; Emma Rondeau, Superior Central senior, 3.92; Wendt, 3.97; and Michaela Werner, Munising junior 4.00.

Three boys and four girls are on this list from other U.P. schools.

Outstanding Student-Athlete

This senior award is reserved for student-athletes who played all four years of high school basketball and have a cumulative GPA of 3.80.

Despite the lofty GPA requirement, 20 area players made this list, with Holmgren the only boy.

The girls include a half-dozen from both Marquette and Negaunee, four from Munising and one each from Ishpeming, Gwinn and Superior Central.

From Marquette are Chloe Hale, Claudia Hale, Ellie Hicks, Maureen Miller, Bridget Pliska and Stasha Warchock.

Negaunee’s honorees are Lynsee Dempsey, Allyson Jacobson, Clara Johnson, Jenna Sager, Ielee Shiroda and Megan Syrjala.

Munising has Marissa Ackerman, Nykole Fitzgibbon, Keira Stampfly and Kianne Wendt.

The others honored are Katie Loman of Ishpeming, Brenna Bruce of Gwinn and Emma Rondeau of SC.

Seven boys and 10 girls were earned this honor from other U.P. schools.

Team First award

BCAM varsity coaches could also name one player from their team who most exemplifies putting team before self, teamwork, commitment, service and sacrifice.

Nine area players earned this award.

The girls honored are Chloe Sjoholm of Ishpeming, Stasha Warchock of Marquette, Brenna Bruce of Gwinn, Megan Syrjala of Negaunee and Nykole Fitzgibbon.

The boys named are Travis Nelson of Negaunee, Drew Collister of Ishpeming, Alec Blank of Munising and River Shumate of Republic-Michigamme.

Three girls and three boys were honored from other U.P. schools.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is