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The basketball nine: 9 area high school teams ranked in Upper Peninsula, but none make No. 1 in first poll of season

Westwood’s Tessa Leece makes a basket in a game against Kingsford on Dec. 6 at the Patriots’ gym. (Journal file photo by Amy Grigas)

UPSSA Basketball Polls

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BOYS

Divisions 1-3 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Iron Mountain (6) 4-0 30 —

2. Negaunee 4-0 24 —

3. Marquette 4-1 18 —

4. Escanaba 3-4 9 —

5. Westwood 3-0 5 —

Others receiving votes: Munising (5-0) 4

Division 4 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Dollar Bay (6) 5-0 30 —

2. North Central 3-1 19 —

3. Ewen-Trout Creek 2-0 17 —

4. Pickford 3-1 9 —

5. Rudyard 3-1 8 —

Others receiving votes: Carney-Nadeau (4-2) 6, Brimley (6-1) 1

GIRLS

Divisions 1-3 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Menominee (6) 7-0 30 —

2. Westwood 4-1 23 —

3. Sault Ste. Marie 4-1 14 —

4. West Iron County 5-0 13 —

5. Negaunee 5-2 4 —

Others receiving votes: Escanaba (5-3) 3, Marquette (5-2) 2, Calumet (5-1) 1

Division 4 W-L Pts Pvs

1. St. Ignace (6) 4-1 30 —

2. Ewen-Trout Creek 5-1 22 —

3. Pickford 7-0 17 —

4. Baraga 5-1 14 —

5. L’Anse 6-1 3 —

(tie) Mid Peninsula 4-1 3 —

Others receiving votes: North Dickinson (5-1) 1

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MARQUETTE — Area teams are knocking on the door but haven’t quite gotten all the way into the room in the first high school basketball polls of the season voted on by select members of the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

The release today of the first polls shows seven area teams ranked in the top five and two more receiving votes but not quite making the elite list.

But none of our teams have made it to No. 1.

In fact, all four top-ranked teams are unanimous picks of the six UPSSA voters — for the boys, 4-0 Iron Mountain in Division 1-3 and 5-0 Dollar Bay in Division 4, while for the girls, 7-0 Menominee in Division 1-3 and 4-1 St. Ignace in Division 4.

Two of those teams ended last season in that same spot — the IM boys and St. Ignace girls — as they made long runs to their respective state championship games before the Mountaineers lost by a single point and the Saints by two points in the finals.

The Dollar Bay boys and Menominee girls were nowhere to be seen in last winter’s final polls, however.

From the area, two teams are strong Nos. 2 — the 4-0 Negaunee boys and 4-1 Westwood girls, both in Division 1-3.

Marquette (4-1) is No. 3 and Westwood (3-0) No. 5 among Division 1-3 boys, while Negaunee (5-2) is No. 5 in Division 1-3 girls.

In addition in Division 1-3, the 5-0 Munising boys and 5-2 Marquette girls received votes but couldn’t crack the top five.

In Division 4, no area team made the boys rankings, while 5-1 Baraga is No. 4 and 6-1 L’Anse is tied for No. 5 for the girls.

With the exception of the Westwood boys, every one of those area teams currently ranked was also in the ratings or at least received votes at the end of last year’s poll.

One notable change, however, is that the Munising boys were in Division 4 last season. The Mustangs are among three U.P. schools this year with its boys team in Division 3 and girls in Division 4, the other two being L’Anse and St. Ignace.

That’s because with the introduction of divisions in basketball, the MHSAA looks at the schools actually sponsoring each sport and then divides teams into four groups as close to equal as it can, and apparently there are different sets of schools sponsoring boys teams vs. girls teams.

The Associated Press also released its first state girls polls of the season today. Its first boys poll comes out next week.

No area team received at least the 12 votes that were necessary to earn a mention, but several from the U.P. did — Menominee is tied for ninth in Division 2, while St. Ignace is third, Pickford ninth and North Dickinson is 13th in Division 4.

Among games involving area teams vs. ranked teams this week, the Marquette boys are at Escanaba tonight, the Westwood girls host Calumet on Thursday, the L’Anse girls host Ewen-Trout Creek on Thursday, the Westwood boys host Iron Mountain on Friday and the Republic-Michigamme girls host Mid Peninsula on Friday.

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

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