U.P. All-Star Classic: East boys defeat West boys 103-96
By MATT “SWEETS” McCARTHY
Iron Mountain Daily News
ST. IGNACE — A game high 40 points from West Iron’s Justin Nelson and a 63-point barrage for the West in the second half wasn’t enough to overcome a double-digit halftime lead, as the East All-Stars defeated the West All-Stars 103-96, in the 2021 boys U.P. Sports Hall of Fame U.P. All-Star Classic Basketball Game, Saturday at LaSalle High School in St. Ignace.
In the girls game, the West triumphed, 87-80. MVP was Megan Crow from Gladstone on the East team.
For the boys, East guard and Escanaba graduate Brandon Frazer scored 17 points, and was named game MVP.
“It’s really exciting for me to win this award. There’s lots of good players here today, and several that weren’t able to play in the game and aren’t here,” Frazer told WLUC TV6’s Mike Ludlum.
The 35th annual event was originally canceled, like the 34th annual game was, due to COVID-19 and the logistics of having the game earlier in the summer when it’s usually held. With the game being organized and put on in literally 10 to 11 days, many players who were invited were unable to make the trip to the Eastern U.P. for varying reasons.
One in particular being reigning three-time U.P. Mr. Basketball Foster Wonders of Iron Mountain. Wonders is already enrolled in summer classes at Southern Illinois University, where he received a full basketball scholarship, making him ineligible to play due to NCAA rules.
The game was played in a college atmosphere, as far as the game rules went, with two 20-minute halfs and a 30-second shot clock. The East came out in full swing, playing like it truly was their last basketball game in their respective schools home white uniforms. While the West on the other hand, seemed to be in a much slower gear than their opponents, basically for the entire first half.
The feeling out process in an all-star game caused some of the West’s lethargic play, with having to get used to playing with one another, mostly for the first time. While the East had an easier time with that aspect of the game, with four of their eight players, all Bark River-Harris players, as well as their head coach, Mark Zawacki.
“Our boys kind of felt that they’d be overmatched today looking at their (West) team on paper. Our boys came out fired up and ready to play right away, and I think that reason had a lot to do with it,” said Zawacki. “The West didn’t quit even when we were up by over 30 points, and I think our guys kind of took our feet of the gas to soon.”
Zawacki was nominated for Class ABC coach of the year, as the Broncos had a 15-1 regular season record. The Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters unanimously selected Harvey “Bucky” Johnson of Iron Mountain as ABC coach of the year.
There’s minimal defense and game planning in an all-star game, as many players shinned right from the get go. “I had a-lot of fun here today,” stated Nelson. “Winning the dunk contest and getting to play with Nathan (Thomson) one more time was fun too.”
MHSAA Division 3 U.P. golf champion Nathan Thomson also played on the West squad, scoring five points in the contest.
Logan DePew of Newberry drained a team-high 21 points for the East, followed by Trenton Wood-Keshick of BR-H with 19, while Joey Stein and Nick Javurek, both also of BR-H scored 16 and 13 points respectively.
For the West, boys 3-point shootout champion Ty Lotterman of Marquette, poured in 19 points, while teammate Lincoln Sager chipped in 12.
Ian Gozinski of North Central scored seven points, while 2021 Skyline Central Conference player of the year, Beau Koffman of Carney-Nadeau also scored seven points in the contest. Koffman was runner-up to Lotterman in the 3-point shootout.
Lane Kortemeier of Bessemer was on the West roster and had accepted the offer to play in the game, but injured his ankle late last week and was unable to play. Bessemer head coach Richard Mattrella coached the West squad.
Mason Kudlick of Rapid River, a late addition to the game, was placed on the West roster to replace Kortemeier, scoring three points.