IRONWOOD - The Northern Michigan Girls overpowered the Northern Wisconsin Girls team 87-68 in the inaugural game of the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash All-Star Game in the steamy GCC Lindquist Center on Tuesday night.
"This was a great experience for the girls," Northern Michigan and Ishpeming Westwood coach Kurt Corcoran said. "It was a lot of fun and I told the girls this could be the last time they might play or be the start of college basketball for them. I told them to remember the experience and cherish the moment. We had 15 people come from Ishpeming alone. This could be a great recruitment tool for Gogebic."
All-Star Game promoter, Russ Maki, and the Kiwanis Club started with the idea of having an all-star basketball game of graduated seniors. Northern Michigan included players from Ironwood to Ispeming and Gwinn. They had to be all-conference, All-U.P. or All-State.
Northern Wisconsin players had the same requirements, because the all-star game wanted quality players. Northern Wisconsin players included Hurley and Wisconsin teams from all directions.
Mackenzie Sadowski and Aby Bieles came from Coleman, Wis ., 195 miles away.
"We had a very good turnout of fans at a great facility," Maki said. "We're hoping to make this an annual event."
The teams played two 24-minute halves. After Ontonagon's Brooke Turin made a lay-in to give Northern Michigan a 4-2 advantage, L'Anse's Madi Swanson tossed in a top-of-the-key 3 and then drove the baseline for a lay-in at the 20:12 mark to put Michigan up 9-4.
Caitlin Hewitt, of Ishpeming Westwood, buried a 3 from the left wing and Taylor Niemi of Ewen-Trout Creek scored to give Northern Michigan a 15-8 lead with 17:15 remaining. Bessemer's Sarah Trudgeon was fouled hard on a shot and her two free throws kept a seven point lead at 17-10.
But Northern Wisconsin surged behind Ladysmith's Karleigh Cody's seven points and out-scored Michigan 11-2 to take a 21-19 lead.
Northern Michigan answered back with a pair of baskets from Turin and Ishpeming Westwood's Caitlin Hewitt.
At the 9:35 mark, Trudgeon sank two free throws and then made a steal and came downcourt and made an 8-footer. Northern Michigan regained the lead at 31-21.
It was apparent in pregame warm-ups that Northern Wisconsin had the bigger, taller team. But Michigan was the quicker team and began using its quickness on a press that brought Wisconsin to its knees.
Northern Michigan had 20 steals and scored 20 first half points off turnovers to none for Northern Wisconsin.
"The key was our pressure," Corcoran said. "We were smaller, but we used that to our advantage pressing. We had 25 minutes at practice today to put in the run and jump press and the girls excelled at it. Julia Daavettila (of Dollar Bay) was not even at practice because of a work obligation. and she was the MVP.
"These girls were fundamentally sound and well-coached. It was easier to come together and play together."
It was steals, turnovers and lay-ups and Northern Michigan led 50-32 by half-time.
Daavettila started the second half with a deep 3 from the left corner and Northern Michigan never looked back.
"It was a little nerve-wracking at the start, but once we got going it was a lot better," Turin said. "It's a little different playing with new people, but once we got in the flow, we were real good as a team. We meshed well together and pushed the ball well."
Turin will continue her education and play basketball at Finlandia University.
With 12:28 left in the second half, Trudgeon made a left-handed lay-in from the lane. The lead increased to 85-43 and running clock kicked in.
"I'm really excited and this was really a good experience," Trudgeon said. "There was a lot of good competition, but we played harder and wanted it more."
Trudgeon will attend GCC and join the basketball program for the 2014-15 seasons.
Northern Michigan also scored 27 points off three-point shots to three for Northern Wisconsin.
All the Northern Michigan players scored in the game with Daavettila leading the offensive attack with 15 points. Hewitt notched 13 points and Trudgeon added 10. Turin and Lizzy Dauphinais-Van Buren chipped in with nine points.
Sadowski was Northern Wisconsin's top gun with 15 points and Cody reached double figures with 13.
Northern Wisconsin - Sophie Habas 8, Carly Ridderbush 4, Tylor Kruse 1, Mariah Stoll 5, Janice Anderson 5, Ashley Volkmann 11, Abby Bieber 2, Karleigh Cody 13, Mackenzie Sadowski 17, Ashley Mai 2. FTs: 23-33. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: none. 3-pointers: Stoll 1.
Northern Michigan - Michaela Burke 2, Madi Swanson 7, Valerie Rajala 7, Caitlin Hewitt 13, Taylor Niemi 5, Julia Daavettila 15, Brooke Turin 9, Sarah Trudgeon 10, Lizzy Dauphinais-Van Buren 9, Kelsie Richards 7. FTs: 6-11. Fouls: 23. Fouled out: Sarah Trudgeon. 3-pointers: Daavettila 3, Turin 1, Swanson 1, Hewitt 1, Niemi 1, Dauphinais-Van Buren 1.
Northern Michigan: 50-32, half