IRONWOOD - The all-stars came to Ironwood Tuesday night, but the one who shined the brightest had the shortest distance to travel.
Ironwood's Adam Mackey was named Most Valuable Player as Northern Michigan beat Northern Wisconsin 112-89 in Tuesday's inaugural Kiwanis Classic Border Bash all-star basketball game at the Lindquist Center.
Michigan took the lead early and Wisconsin was climbing from behind all night. Michigan never pulled far away, but Wisconsin never took a lead.
Mackey led Northern Michigan with 23 points, including 14 in the first 24-minute half. It's on the floor where he will play basketball, at Gogebic Community College, in the fall.
"It feels pretty good," he said. "Especially playing with all these guys. Some of these guys are playing college ball; some of them are playing here. It's just fun to play these types of games."
Northern Wisconsin coach Gary Giancola of Hurley has grown accustomed to Mackey's high-level performances.
"When I went through the line, I said, "I guarantee you Adam, that's the last time you're going to beat us,'" Giancola said.
While Mackey graduated, Giancola also stepped aside as coach of the Midgets. This was a good opportunity for Giancola to take a bow from coaching.
"Really it's been a special way to go out through this whole process, with the (Hurley) hall of fame coming up, the athletic banquet, and not just going into this all-star game," Giancola said. "It was special to me. It was all about the kids tonight, what they accomplished. On a personal note, not only to sit and watch the game and coach it, but to reflect on all the opportunities and time and people."
There was a ton of talent on the floor as the best graduates from both sides of the border competed. Bryant Rowe of Ironwood was Michigan's second-leading scorer with 15 points. Gwinn's Justin Nyquist scored 13, L'Anse's Jimmy Veker had 12 and Houghton's Trent Keteri had 10. Bessemer's Ben Zielinski and Tyler Cole of Wakefield-Marenisco both ended with six points.
"I would love to coach a team like that all the time," Michigan coach Jim Partanen said. "Jimmy Veker, he's a football player, he played well. Justin Nyquist, he's a tight end, but he played well."
Wisconsin's Malachi Bush of Chequamegon led all scorers with 25 points.
"That kid can play," Giancola said.
Don Gordon of Bayfield had 11, Tom Whiting of Ashland scored 10. Jake Colassaco of Hurley had nine. Hurley's Jared Wendt also took part.
"That's one thing about (Mackey) and Rowe, watching them play against those players, they're good players," Giancola said. "Zielinski, Cole, Jake and Jared, we had some talent on the Range this year. I like the idea of promoting basketball in this area."
Michigan was just able to play an up-tempo game like it wanted, taking an early lead and never letting Wisconsin turn its momentum into a lead.
"I thought we played very well together," Partanen said. "Everyone knew what they were doing. Everyone contributed. Everyone played really well. We watched the other team practice. We knew they were bigger. That Whiting kid, the kid from Medford. We said we can't play a half-court game. We wanted to make it an up-tempo game. We wanted to push and take the shots that were there. As a team, I thought we were more athletic."
They were also physical against Whiting, who is 6-6, Partanen said.
"I thought the Michigan kids were just a little bit more physical getting to the 50-50 balls and they shot the ball pretty well," Giancola said. "We made a nice run in the second half and got within 10."
Giancola commended Russ Maki and the Kiwanis Club for putting the event on and for the huge crowd it drew.
"It was nice to interact with kids from other towns, other programs that come here and give up a day to promote the game of basketball and give those kids some recognition," Giancola said.
Mackey and Zielinski will team up again Saturday in St. Ignace for the North team in the U.P. all-star basketball game.
Michigan - Luke Woods 6, Trent Keteri 10, Adam Mackey 23, Ryan LaBerge 4, Ben Zielinski 6, Bryant Rowe 15, Justin Nyquist 13, Travis Vincent 5, Tyler Cole 6, Trever Ekberg 12, Jimmy Veker 12. FTs: 6-10. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Mackey 3, Veker 2, Ekberg 2, Keteri 2, Woods 1, Nyquist 1.
Wisconsin - Malachi Bush 25, Robert Wilkins 9, Brad Holcomb 9, Jake Colassaco 9, Colton Volkmann 7, Don Gordon 11, Austin Salzgerber 9, Tom Whiting 10. FTs: 12-18. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Salzgerber 3, Gordon 2, Bush 2, Colassaco 1.
Half: Michigan 57-48.