MARQUETTE — Bessemer’s Ben Zielinski stepped into the spotlight in his senior year, while Ironwood’s Jacob DiGiorgio has another year left on the hardwood.
Both were selected to the All-U.P. team at Wednesday’s 64th annual meeting of the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
Zielinski was selected to the Class D Second Team with DiGiorgio making Second Team in Class ABC.
Zielinski led the Speedboys to a Porcupine Mountain Conference championship and a near-upset of Crystal Falls Forest Park in the district tournament opener.
“He’s smart with the ball, made good decisions,” Bessemer coach Jim Partanen said. “He liked to have the ball in his hands, so he created stuff. He could get to the basket. He just elevated his game this year and really did improve his game to make everybody on the team better.
“And he’s a great young man. He’s second in his class (GPA).”
Zielinski averaged 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
“Ben played every position on the floor from point guard to shooting guard to post player,” Partanen said. “At 6-2, he was our tallest starter and second biggest player, so he mostly defended bigger players.”
DiGiorgio averaged 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds for the regional finalist Red Devils. He was the team’s leading rebounder and he grabbed 17 boards in the regional semifinal win over Norway. He scored 18 points and had nine rebounds in the regional final loss to Negaunee.
He led Ironwood with 34 blocks.
“Tireless worker,” Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski said. “Great attitude. Always working extra, putting in extra time on his game. That’s why he made himself into a very good player, through his hard work. Super kid, also.”
Ironwood’s Bryant Rowe was named honorable mention in Class ABC.
Rowe averaged 11.1 points per game in his senior season. He shot 35.1 percent (39-111) from behind the arc and 84.8 percent at the foul line.
“He is our top defensive player, usually guarding the top player on the opposing team, a role he took to and relished playing” Lewinski said. “He did a great job on the defensive end and he was a pretty good offensive player.”
Marquette was named the Class AB Team of the Year with Negaunee earning the award in Class C and Cedarville in D. The only team to be challenged was Cedarville, which won thanks to its quarterfinal win over North Central. It was perhaps the most exciting quarterfinal since Cedarville held on to beat Ewen-Trout Creek in a thriller at Escanaba in 2008.
Negaunee’s Mike O’Donnell (ABC) and North Central’s Adam Mercier (D) were coaches of the year.