Defense a luxury: Northern Wisconsin boys overwhelm Upper Peninsula crew with 172-114 win in Border Bash all-star basketball game
EAGLE RIVER, Wis. — Wisconsin Rapids coach Dan Witter imagined what the margin of victory could have been if his Northern Wisconsin all-star boys basketball team played more defense on Wednesday night.
But when you score 172 points, you really don’t need to worry about that part of the game.
The impressive group of athletes from the Badger State jumped on the Upper Peninsula-based Northern Michigan team early and won 172-114 in the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash all-star game.
The scoreboard at the Northland Pines High School gym was only big enough to add a “1” when teams hit triple digits. Until the running clock started late in the game, it looked like Wisconsin might have needed a “2” there.
High school teams, of course, very rarely clear even 100 points in either Michigan’s 32-minute high school games or Wisconsin’s 36-minute contests.
But the Border Bash lasts 52 minutes, and as mentioned, defense often doesn’t accompany the teams. Wisconsin had 86 points at halftime and reached 100 less than three minutes into the 26-minute-long second half.
“It’d be nice to coach that kind of talent all the time,” Witter said. “Most coaches have maybe one of those guys, it was nice to have all of them. You have size, you have shooting, you have speed.
“If they wanted to play defense, they could have really won.”
Most of the Wisconsin guys knew each other, Witter said. And it seemed that way in how they played.
Five-foot-10 guard Devon Powell of Ashland led all players with 33 points and was named MVP. Teams that played Ashland in recent years, like Hurley, know what a handful he is to stop and that was certainly the case Wednesday night.
“He could be really good. He doesn’t right now understand some things, but he’s going to be really good,” Witter said. “He did a lot of things (Wednesday). He defended kids, he rebounded, he scored.”
At least three or four kids could have been MVP, the coach said.
Cade Farber of Abbotsford put on a show for the large crowd in attendance, slamming it down several times, including on a throw-down alley oop, the highlight play of the night.
He had 25 points.
“He doesn’t do a whole lot of different ones, but he really dunks,” Witter said.
Hunter Ingels of Winneconne scored 29 points off seven 3-pointers and impressed Witter with the way he shot. Michigan Tech commit Dawson Nordgaard of West De Pere scored 12.
The Northern Michigan team also had some excellent players, but it just couldn’t match the athletes Wisconsin had across the board.
Jeffers’ Christian Hocking led Northern Michigan with 29 points.
“It was just a good time for him, I think,” said his high school and Border Bash coach John Schutz. “He hasn’t committed to anybody yet (for college), so maybe he’ll decide after this.”
On Michigan’s team, Witter was most impressed with Hocking and All-Upper Peninsula Dream Teamer Kam Karp of Marquette, who scored 23 points.
Negaunee’s Eli Loukkala scored 19 points, while Davin Hill had 15. Gwinn’s Reid Hill contributed six points.
As lopsided as the score was, Schutz said it was still good to get the team out there.
“(Wisconsin) was a very good team, but it was fun getting the boys out here, get one last game for them all,” he said.
Wisconsin won for the third straight time and now leads 4-3 all-time in the annual Border Bash.
The Border Bash took on added significance this year as it’s the only local all-star game being held. The U.P. All-Star Classic was canceled due to organizers not being able to secure a site.
Masks were not required for players or fans at the Border Bash. Organizer Russ Maki was impressed with the crowd of around 500 people. About 400 to 500 people attend annually at the game’s usual site, Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.