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Just how meaningful? Final Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association basketball polls can be both significant, insignificant

Ishpeming’s Jenna Maki, center, tries to shovel a pass around the defense of Negaunee’s Alyssa Hill in the third quarter of their high school basketball game played at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Feb. 12. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

UPSSA Basketball Polls

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BOYS

Divisions 1-3 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Iron Mountain (5) 13-0 25 1

2. Escanaba 13-2 20 2

3. Marquette 10-3 15 3

4. Jeffers 16-1 7 —

5. Menominee 7-4 4 —

Others receiving votes: Westwood (8-5) 2, Bark River-Harris (15-1) 2

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Division 4 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Ewen-Trout Creek (2) 13-2 22 1

2. Munising (3) 14-1 21 2

3. Dollar Bay 14-3 17 3

4. Rudyard 13-2 10 4

5. Chassell 11-4 5 5

Others receiving votes: None

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GIRLS

Divisions 1-3 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Menominee (5) 11-0 25 2

2. Sault Ste. Marie 12-1 19 1

3. Calumet 15-0 14 4

4. St. Ignace 11-4 11 3

5. Escanaba 10-4 4 5

Others receiving votes: Negaunee (12-2) 2

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Division 4 W-L Pts Pvs

1. Carney-Nadeau (3) 17-0 23 1

2. Ewen-Trout Creek (2) 14-1 22 2

3. Baraga 11-4 9 3

4. Ontonagon 12-2 8 5

(tie) Cedarville 10-2 8 4

Others receiving votes: Rudyard (9-5) 3, Pickford (9-4) 2

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MARQUETTE — The final weekly poll of the high school basketball season is both the most meaningful and the most meaningless set of rankings put out by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

It’s meaningful because this poll, released today, will probably be the one both fans and the media will cite when it comes to who were the best teams in the U.P. this regular season, including for All-U.P. voting in a few weeks.

But with MHSAA district tournaments being held this week for both girls and boys teams, this vote probably means the least to coaches and players, who know that just about all the success or failure for this season is predicated on how they do in the tournament.

Nevertheless, the final rankings are out with a fair amount of movement for it being the final set of rankings.

Among area teams, the only one that actually moved were the Westwood boys (8-5), who after losing two games last week, fell from fifth to the “others” list in Divisions 1-3.

The Patriots lost at Marquette 69-31 and Negaunee 59-41 last week and have now lost three in a row. But first-year coach Luke Gray knows a successful outcome in the Ishpeming High School-hosted Division 3 district against the Hematites or Ironwood on Thursday would erase most of those memories.

A curious case is one of the area’s other ranked boys teams, Munising (14-1). The Mustangs, who won at Bark River-Harris 60-51 and at home against Pickford 74-41 last week, have moved steadily up in the rankings and are just behind No. 1 Ewen-Trout Creek in the Division 4 poll.

But while Munising is one vote shy of the 13-2 Panthers, the Mustangs have actually received one more first-place vote, 3-2, than E-TC.

Apparently, those two voters who didn’t pick Munising No. 1 really didn’t think highly of the Alger County team.

Again, the Mustangs can prove themselves in the tourney, though it might not be until the regionals as Munising is the only team in its Superior Central-hosted Division 4 district with a winning record.

The other ranked boys team from the area is Marquette (10-3), which held its No. 3 position in Divisions 1-3 after beating Westwood last week.

The Redmen go big-game hunting in Division 1, taking on a similarly large school in Traverse City West or Alpena on Thursday with a shot at hosting its district championship on Saturday against Petoskey, Gaylord or TC Central.

In the girls rankings, both area teams receiving votes held their positions. Division 4 No. 3 Baraga (11-4) won two of three in the past week, beating Republic-Michigamme 85-14 and Dollar Bay 74-23 while falling to now-No. 3 Calumet 75-42 of Divisions 1-3.

And the Negaunee girls (12-2) remain just outside the Divisions 1-3 top five as an “others” team despite beating Gladstone 48-42 and Westwood 42-29 in the past week.

Elsewhere in the polls, Jeffers and Menominee supplanted Westwood and Bark River-Harris in the Nos. 4 and 5 positions among Divisions 1-3 boys teams, while the entire top five for Division 4 boys retained their positions.

There were three switches in the girls polls, with the Marquette girls making the biggest difference despite their quite modest 3-11 record.

That because the Redettes handed Sault Ste. Marie its first loss of the season and broke was reported to be a 28-game winning streak for the Blue Devils, knocking the Soo from its No. 1 perch in Divisions 1-3 in favor of still-undefeated Menominee.

In addition, Calumet leapfrogged St. Ignace for third in the same rankings after the Saints lost unexpectedly to a 9-5 Rudyard team, 51-47, on Friday.

In Division 4, the one change was actually a “half” change, as former No. 5 Ontonagon moved into a tie for fourth with Cedarville despite each teams winning all its games last week.

In the Associated Press statewide polls also released today, the Munising boys keep creeping upward, now tied for No. 7 with Hillsdale Academy in Division 4.

Other ranked teams from the U.P. are, for the boys, Iron Mountain at No. 3 in Division 3, BR-H at No. 12 (just outside the top 10) in Division 3, E-TC at No. 3 in Division 4, Dollar Bay at No. 11 in Division 4 and Rudyard at No. 15 in Division 4.

Among girls teams, the Soo is No. 9 in Division 2, Menominee is No. 7 in Division 3, Calumet is tied for No. 12 in Division 3, Carney-Nadeau is No. 1 in Division 4 and E-TC is No. 3 in Division 4.

Girls district games were held Monday and continue on Wednesday and Friday, while the boys districts will be held tonight, Thursday and Saturday.

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

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