Bit of a consolation: Regional girls basketball finalists earn plenty of recognition with All-Upper Peninsula honors
2019-20 All-U.P. Girls
Player, School Ht. Yr.
Emma Anderson, Menominee 6-3 Jr.
Elise Besonen, Ewen-Trout Creek 5-3 Jr.
Nicole Kamin, Escanaba 5-11 Jr.
Tessa Leece, Westwood 5-10 Sr.
Hallie Marshall, St. Ignace 5-7 Jr.
Mercedes Simmons, Forest Park 6-1 Sr.
Divisions 1-3 First Team
Megan Crow, Gladstone 6-3 Jr.
Elli Djerf, Calumet 5-9 Jr.
Alyssa Hill, Negaunee 6-2 Soph.
Madelyn Koski, Westwood 5-6 Sr.
Emily Nelson, West Iron County 6-3 Sr.
Division 4 First Team
Megan Matson, Munising 5-8 Sr.
Ally Schultz, St. Ignace 5-8 Soph.
Briana Smith, North Dickinson 5-7 Sr.
Sophia Vaughn, Engadine 5-8 Sr.
Tessa Wagner, Carney-Nadeau 6-2 Soph.
Divisions 1-3 Second Team
Erin Barrette, Menominee 5-6 Jr.
Julia Beaumont, Sault Ste. Marie 6-0 Sr.
McKenzie Boyd, Ironwood 5-8 Jr.
Emily Curtice, Gwinn 5-7 Sr.
Marissa Delmont, Gwinn 5-8 Sr.
Brooke Kriegl, Kingsford 5-4 Sr.
Aspen Michelin, Marquette 5-10 Sr.
Maria Millado, Marquette 5-10 Soph.
Chloe Norman, Negaunee 5-8 Sr.
Emma Poirier, Ishpeming 5-4 Sr.
Natalie Prophet, Westwood 5-8 Soph.
Division 4 Second Team
Andie Arsenault, North Central 5-7 Jr.
Sandra Boulton, Carney-Nadeau 5-11 Sr.
Elysia Causley, Cedarville 5-8 Jr.
Kennedy Englund, Mid Peninsula 5-9 Sr.
Kennedy Guild, Pickford 5-8 Soph.
Emmalee Hart, St. Ignace 5-7 Jr.
Rylie Koskinen, Baraga 5-8 Jr.
Jaylyne Lindemann, Baraga 5-8 Jr.
Maija Rice, L’Anse 5-7 Jr.
Paige Sleeman, Chassell 5-8 Soph.
Teams of the Year
Menominee Divisions 1-2
Westwood Division 3
St. Ignace Division 4
Players of the Year
Emma Anderson, Menominee (and Ms. U.P. Basketball)
Hallie Marshall, St. Ignace Division 4
Coaches of the Year
Pat Bennin, Sault Ste. Marie Divisions 1-3
Dorene Ingalls, St. Ignace Division 4
Source: Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association
MARQUETTE — While the boys basketball tournament hadn’t even reached its district finals yet, a half-dozen Upper Peninsula girls teams were within one game of capturing a regional championship when seasons were called off on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic and the necessity of social distancing.
Each regional finalist could see the path in front of it to reach the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals in the state.
And three of them were area teams — Westwood in Division 3 and Baraga and L’Anse in Division 4. The others were Division 2 Sault Ste. Marie and Division 4 St. Ignace and Engadine.
All will hopefully be somewhat comforted by the honors they received Monday night from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association when they announced their All-U.P. teams.
Balloting was done remotely through email as the media members weren’t able to gather, either.
One Westwood player — senior Tessa Leece — was named to the six-player Dream Team, while three area players made it to their respective First Teams and another 10 made it onto the pair of Second Teams.
First Team honorees were Leece’s senior teammate Madelyn Koski along with Negaunee sophomore Alyssa Hill in Divisions 1-3, while senior Megan Matson of Munising was the lone area representative in Division 4.
Area players dominated the D 1-3 Second Team, capturing seven of the 11 spots — seniors Emily Curtice and Marissa Delmont of Gwinn, Aspen Michelin of Marquette, Emma Poirier of Ishpeming and Chloe Norman of Negaunee; along with sophomores Maria Millado of Marquette and Natalie Prophet of Westwood.
In Division 4 on the Second Team, L’Anse junior Maija Rice was joined by Baraga juniors Rylie Koskinen and Jaylyne Lindemann.
Those 14 players are joined by another seven making honorable mention lists. In Divisions 1-3, there were seniors Karlie Patron of Westwood and Emilee McDaniel of Manistique, and in Division 4, junior Katie Rahilly of Newberry, seniors Addison Mattson and Kaylin Voskuhl of L’Anse, and junior Allison Durant and sophomore Reide Osterman of Baraga.
Here is a rundown on the Dream, First and Second teams:
Even though she’s a senior and was the previous year’s All-U.P. Division 1-3 Player of the Year, Leece faced some tough competition in cracking this group as she and the other five honorees each were named to all-state first or second teams by the Associated Press last week.
Leece earned a Second Team all-state nod from the AP in Division 3 for this season after she earned her second straight Player of the Year honors from both the Mid-Peninsula Conference and West PAC.
Cracking the career 1,000-point barrier late in the regular season, Leece also made the all-defensive team in both of her conferences.
She averaged 12.8 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals per game, making 42 percent overall from the field, 35 percent on 3-pointers and 72 percent at the free-throw line.
Leece has already signed a national letter of intent to play at and attend Michigan Tech.
Koski, an honorable mention from the AP statewide in Division 3, inaugurated the 1,000-point club for this year’s team, eclipsing that milestone in December.
She was named to the Dream Team in the West PAC and First Team in the M-PC and was a Dream Teamer a year ago in All-U.P. balloting.
Bound for Ferris State, Koski averaged 12.3 ppg, three rebounds, four assists and 2 1/2 steals per game while making 33 percent of her 3s and 76 percent at the line.
“I have two 1,000-point scorers and I can’t say enough about Madi,” Westwood head coach Kurt Corcoran said on the night Leece eclipsed 1,000 points. “They’re both the quintessential teammates and basketball players. To get one of those girls in a career is pretty lucky, but to land two of them at the same time is unbelievable.”
Stepping up in her sophomore year, Hill helped put Negaunee right in the conversation as one of the U.P.’s best teams, easing the return of coach Mike O’Donnell to the Miners’ fold from his stint at Finlandia University.
At 6-foot-2, Hill commanded the inside and made the West PAC Dream Team and M-PC First Team, averaging 15.9 ppg, 11.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while making 59 percent from the field.
She also came up big in big games, accumulating 24 points and 16 rebounds in a late-season 43-33 win over Westwood and 18 points and 18 rebounds against Calumet.
Over in Division 4 and the Skyline Central Conference, Matson had to do a bit of everything for an 8-14 Munising team that suffered through a nine-game losing streak in the latter part of the regular season.
But Matson was a major factor in the Mustangs capturing their district tourney crown before losing by just two points to a powerhouse Baraga team to open the regionals.
A Second Team all-stater and First Teamer in the Skyline, Matson averaged 20 ppg, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks while making 54 percent from the field and 68 percent at the line.
But in the districts she starred against the top two seeds, scoring 33 points in a 51-47 win at Mid Peninsula, then put in 21 in a 44-31 victory over Rapid River to capture the title.
And against Baraga, she led all scorers with 23 points in a 51-49 loss to the 21-win Vikings.
“Everyone all year knew we needed Megan to score for us and she continued to score,” said her coach Matt Mattson. “She had games of 27, 28, 28, 30 and 35 points (during the season).”
Marquette County could put together a pretty formidable all-star team with its seven players on the D 1-3 Second Team.
Starting in Division 1, Marquette senior Aspen Michelin was a First Team selection in the Great Northern Conference, averaging 11 ppg, five rebounds, four assists and two steals while making 73 percent at the line.
“She has a great athletic presence on defense and caused a lot of problems and turnovers with her length,” MSHS coach Ben Smith said of the 5-10 Michelin. “She was unselfish to a fault and the numbers don’t do her justice.”
Sophomore teammate Maria Millado just scratched the surface in her first year on varsity with the traditionally deep Redettes.
“She’s a great athlete,” Smith said of another 5-10 player. “As a sophomore, she really stepped up to the role she was needed for. She scored 25 (points) in regionals and looked really good against their athletes.”
The Division 1 regional game was a 63-54 loss to 21-3 Midland Dow.
Overall, Millado had averages of 13.5 ppg, six rebounds, three steals and a block while hitting 54 percent from the field and 77 percent at the line.
The Miners’ Norman made the First Team in both the M-PC and Iron Division of the West PAC, averaging 13.4 ppg, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. She made 43 percent from the field.
She also came up big in big games, getting 33 points and 13 rebounds vs. Marquette and 24 points and seven rebounds against West Iron County.
Prophet is the third honoree from Westwood, helping to dispel a myth Corcoran was glad to bury — that the Patriots are just a two-player team.
“I think that story is a little old,” the coach said after a Jan. 24 win over Negaunee, 45-35. It was a game where Prophet scored 16 points.
“Maybe last year when Madi and Tessa were the big two options, but for a long time now, we’ve had Natalie, we’ve had KP (senior Karlie Patron)…. Obviously, Natalie is another big option. She was 3 for 4 beyond the arc, she goes inside, she’s got hang time, she’s tough to guard and she plays defense against the post, guards or anybody. She’s the complete package….”
“It really isn’t a sense of who’s going to step up because everybody can step up. I think that’s what makes us the most dangerous.”
Prophet was named to the West PAC Iron Division First Team, averaging 11 ppg, five rebounds and two assists while shooting 47 percent from the field.
In Gwinn, Delmont was the rock that coach Ben Olsen counted on as the Modeltowners put together a 5-0 start and finished 13-8, never losing more than two in a row.
“She has a rare combination of speed and power,” her coach said. “She’s (an NCAA) Division II guard attending Northwood in the fall.
“She was No. 1 on everyone’s game plan and most every night, she came through scoring for us.”
Delmont was Dream Team in the West PAC and First Team in the M-PC, averaging 13.1 ppg, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals.
She led Gwinn in rebounding and assists while scoring in double figures in 14 games, including 24 points with eight boards vs. WIC and 20 points and seven rebounds against Escanaba.
Curtice, a fellow Modeltowners senior, surprised Olsen with her offense.
“Coming into this season, we knew we had one of the premier defensive players in Emily,” the coach said. “What caught me off guard was how efficient she became on offense.
“She truly had one of the more, if not, the most efficient scoring of anyone I’ve ever had…. On some nights, (she) becomes our first scoring option.”
Curtice was a First Teamer in the West PAC Iron Division and Second Team in the M-PC, averaging 13.1 ppg, four rebounds and two steals while making 47 percent from the field and 83 percent at the line.
A 5-4 senior, Poirier was counted on to come up big for 6-15 Ishpeming, which had a 3-1 streak in February to right its season.
“I feel her stats are comparable and better in areas than (Westwood’s) Tessa Leece and Madi Koski,” Hematites coach Ryan Reichel said. “She averaged 19 vs. Gladstone (and) had some big games against other big teams.”
Overall, she talled 13 ppg and five rebounds, including 24 points and seven rebounds vs. Negaunee, 21 points and seven rebounds vs. Gwinn and a season-high 25 points vs. Hancock.
In Division 4, the three juniors from Baraga County propelled their teams to a much-anticipated regional finals matchup that never happened due to the pandemic.
At 20-4 L’Anse, Rice made the Elite Team in the Copper Mountain Conference, averaging close to 18 ppg, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists while making 70 percent at the line.
She had big point totals in a regular-season win over Baraga and district victory over Ewen-Trout Creek.
In Baraga, Koskinen was called the most reliable, well-rounded player for the 21-3 Vikings.
A member of the Copper Mountain Elite Team, she averaged 13.2 ppg, four rebounds, three assists and two steals while playing solid defense and attacking the rim on offense.
Lindemann, also an All-U.P. Second Teamer in 2019, made the Copper Mountain’s Copper Country Division First Team this year, averaging 13 ppg, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Baraga’s primary post player at just 5-8, she was still dominant in the paint and on the drive to improve the Vikings’ toughness.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.