Modeltowners, Miners, Redmen, Patriots get All-U.P. Second Teamers

Gwinn's Austin Forbes gets squeezed on defense by Negaunee's Drew Lindberg as he drives to the basket in the fourth quarter of their MHSAA Division 3 district tournament championship game played at Lakeview Memorial Gym in Negaunee on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Boys basketball teams from Marquette County may have gotten a player on the All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team and a couple more on the Division 1-2-3 First Team, but it was the Second Team where they really showed their depth of quality.

Gwinn, Negaunee, Marquette and Westwood each had a player fill a slot on the Second Team at the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s annual meeting pm Tuesday, and each of them had the resume to back that up.

The Modeltowners’ honoree was senior guard Austin Forbes, who averaged more than 15 points per game along with 4.7 rebounds and four assists. Not only that, but he did it despite the lingering effects of a torn ACL suffered during football season.

“I think that’s a very fair award for Austin,” Gwinn head coach Jim Finkbeiner said. “He’s a very good player for us and another key player for us, too.

“As a point guard, he became invaluable because it’s tough to win without a true point guard and he’s able to share some of the skills that he learned over the last couple of years with the younger kids.

“We counted on him for scoring, but also some other things. He’d rebound like typical players would, like four to six rebounds a game at his position and four or five assists per game and then scoring 16 points per game.

“He’s a pretty well-rounded player and definitely deserving of Second Team. There’s not too many kids that can do what he can did playing with that ACL tear through 20 games. There were a number of games where his knee locked up on him and we’d take him out and then five minutes later, he’s putting himself back in the game again.

“You can’t say enough about a kid that cares that much to try to win basketball games to do something like that.”

Negaunee’s Second Teamer was junior guard Jakson Sager, who averaged more than 12 points per game and dished out almost seven assists a night. Sager ran the Miners’ offense and also was assigned to guard some of the best players in the U.P. on defense.

“Jakson is incredible with the ball in his hands,” Negaunee head coach Dan Waterman said. “He’s the best ballhandler in the U.P. for my money, and his ability to break down defenses off the dribble and not only score himself, but get other guys involved was crucial for us.

“I think the biggest factor in why we took a big leap forward as a team from eight wins to 15 wins was his ability to break people down.

“His vision is phenomenal. He’s feeding Jason (Waterman) on the wing and feeding Drew (Lindberg) out on the wing and our big guys underneath. His total control of what’s going on the court during those situations is unparalleled.

“He’s got a tough job breaking pressure and getting us into our offensive end, but defensively, he checking the other team’s point guard most of the time.

“He’s got quick hands. He’s not the biggest, thickest kid in the world, but he’s tough and competitive and does a really good job for us on both ends of the floor.”

Another player in charge of running his team’s offense was Marquette’s Bryce Brazeau. A senior guard, Brazeau’s offensive stats may not draw your attention (7.8 ppg) but his strength wasn’t as a scorer.

Brazeau served as the floor general and was the go-to guy to take control when things got tense, according to Redmen head coach Brad Nelson.

“He deserved that award,” Nelson said. “His stats aren’t mind-blowing when you look at them, but he’s just a steady point guard.

“He took care of the basketball and he was the coach out on the court. I think his assist-to-turnover ratio was around two, which for a point guard, that’s exceptional.

“He’s been with me for three years as well like some of the other guys. I thought the way he controlled the game and knew what we needed to do to win was part of our success.

“He’s the one that we pointed to in practice. I put him in situations where he was under pressure to make free throws and a lot of the games that we won when they were tight were because he was able to go to the free throw line and finish the game for us.

“That’s what you expect out of a senior point guard that has been with you for three years and he was able to do that for us this year.”

Westwood’s Second Teamer was also a senior who was relied upon. Nathan Beckman may be better known for being the Patriots’ quarterback on the gridiron, but he also excelled on the basketball floor this winter.

He averaged 13.3 points per game and four rebounds, while also earning spots on the West PAC and Mid-Peninsula Conference First Team.

“Nathan is not just a football player,” Patriots head coach Chad Hewitt said. “He’s a well-rounded athlete. He does track, basketball and football. He’s a complete package. He’s a 4.0 (grade-point average), he’s a valedictorian, he’s just that guy.

“He’s athletic, he’s got football savvy, basketball savvy and he’s obviously book savvy.

“He’s just got a general leadership tendency that he has about him. ‘Hey guys jump on my back and let’s go.’ The guys want to follow him and do what he says.”

Other members of the Division 1-2-3 Second Team were Iron Mountain’s Jaden Vicenzi, Kingsford’s Tyler Beauchamp and Luke Terrian, Escanaba’s Craig Kamin, Houghton’s George Butvilas and Ironwood’s Griffen Revoyr.

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