Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren scores 16 points but Northern Michigan team loses at Border Bash

Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren of Northern Michigan dunks during the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash Wednesday at the Lindquist Center in Ironwood. (Ironwood Daily Globe photo by Jason Juno)

IRONWOOD — One future Michigan Tech player walked out as most valuable player, another put on a show for the crowd and would have been the MVP had his team won.

Rhinelander’s 6-foot-6 Owen White scored 28 points to lead Northern Wisconsin to a 104-94 victory over Northern Michigan in the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash.

Ewen-Trout Creek 6-7 Jake Witt finished with 20 points to lead the Michigan players, but it was the three dunks he had that got the crowd buzzing, especially the first one when he slammed it down with authority over a Wisconsin player.

“Oh wow,” Dollar Bay and Northern Michigan coach Jesse Kentala said. “That was, I think, the moment of this game, that was a beautiful dunk. We don’t get to see things like that up where we’re at as far as basketball goes, so to see that kind of dunk and athleticism is pretty neat.”

Hurley, Wisconsin, guard Isaac DeCarlo had the misfortune of being under the basket when Witt elevated and extended over him for the slam.

“I saw the guy who was supposed to be covering me, he was jogging down to the left of me, I just gave a little push with the ball, nobody was looking, I came straight in and slammed it down,” Witt said.

Ishpeming High School’s Hart Holmgren, a Northern Michigan University recruit, scored the second-most points for Northern Michigan with 16. He made a pair of 3-pointers and pulled down four rebounds while playing 34 minutes.

Holmgren also won the boys slam dunk contest held in conjunction with the game.

DB and E-TC have taken part in some epic Upper Peninsula battles in recent years, but they were all on the same side in this game with Witt representing the Panthers and Kentala, fellow Tech recruit Devin Schmitz and Jaden Janke here from the Blue Bolts.

“It’s nice to play with him instead of against him for sure,” Kentala said of Witt. “What a great kid first and foremost, and a good athlete and competitor. It was nice to be on his team for once.”

Northern Wisconsin coach Derek Lemmens was the opposing coach this time.

“He’s just a man inside,” Lemmens said. “That’s a challenge itself, then when you surround him with good players, that just makes it more difficult. I thought the guys did a good job denying any easy touches and that was huge.”

For Northern Wisconsin, it was all about White. And Lemmens, also his coach at Rhinelander, knows his game well.

“He’s strong, he’s athletic and he can play inside and out,” Lemmens said. “So when you get a bigger guy that can control him inside, he’s going to be able to drag that player outside and when you have a guy that can stay with him outside, he’s going to drag that player inside. His versatility has really been a huge weapon over the years.”

Kentala was impressed.

“What a great player,” Kentala said. “I didn’t know much about him coming into the game — he’s fundamentally sound, good size, can shoot it from the outside, good post moves, just a really good fundamental basketball player. He’s going to be a great addition to Michigan Tech.”

Wakefield-Marenisco’s Jacob Suzik scored 15 points for Northern Michigan. The future Gogebic Community College player had the third-most points on a team full of All-U.P. Dream Teamers and First Teamers.

Norway’s Connor Ortman had 11 to round out double-figures scorers for the U.P. team.

Kentala was happy to coach his players, Schmitz and Janke, again after they led the Blue Bolts to the state semifinal in March.

“Fun time, I love these guys, great kids, Devin and Jaden,” Kentala said. “Obviously, we’d like to have won, that’s basketball, sometimes the shots don’t go down.”