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Gagnon named MVP in Northern Michigan's comeback effort


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Wakefield-Marenisco's Collin Gagnon of the Northern Michigan boys goes to the hoop against Rhinelander's Brandon Reinthaler during Thursday's Kiwanis Classic Border Bash at the Lindquist Center in Ironwood. The shot was blocked. Gagnon scored 20 points and was named MVP.

IRONWOOD - Adam Vandenberghe and Northern Wisconsin put on a show in the first half. Northern Michigan weathered the storm and came back for a 105-104 win in a thrilling Kiwanis Classic Border Bash Thursday night.

That comeback was led by Wakefield-Marenisco's Collin Gagnon, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player, and Ontonagon's Taylor Beaudry.

Gagnon finished with 20 points and Beaudry scored 19.

"They wanted the ball," Michigan coach Jack Kumpula of Lake Linden-Hubbell said. "In a game like this, sometimes the kids don't want the ball, but those kids wanted the ball and it was big for us. They hit some big buckets."

Wisconsin had the definite size advantage and rode that to a 66-48 lead early in the second half.

Michigan came all the way back to tie it at 85 with 7:30 left. Wisconsin retook the lead and had it until Beaudry got an offensive rebound and went to the hoop to tie it at 98.

Beaudry cramped up after the shot, which came not long after he took a shot to the face on the other end.

All-U.P. Dream Teamer Arthur Lyons of Lake Linden then found Gagnon for a go-ahead basket. Michigan led 100-98.

Wisconsin tied it once again, but North Central's Troy Ekberg drove to the basket and Michigan led 102-100.

Michigan didn't trail again as Lyons made two free throws and Beaudry contested a missed 3 by Washburn's Connor Bouchard. Wisconsin did get another 3 to fall, but they were down four, 105-101, by then.

"What a great game," Kumpula said. "Both teams played well and our run came at the end."

Gagnon was biggest when Michigan was working back into the game as he and Beaudry were part of Michigan's best offensive group, Kumpula said.

"They're big and physical and fast, but somehow we came from a deficit and won," Gagnon said.

He was given the MVP award after the game, joining Ironwood's Adam Mackey and Washburn's Cody Tomlinson as Border Bash MVPs.

"Just winning against a very talented Wisconsin team and being the best player on the Michigan side is a great honor," Gagnon said. "There's a lot of talent, and coming in, I thought I was just going to be an asset to the team. I just came out and played my game. There was nothing stopping me about that."

Gagnon said defense was the key to his play during the comeback.

"I played more defense and defense creates offense. My shots were opening up. That's where it started was defense," he said.

Beaudry, a quick guard, was tough for the tall Wisconsin team to handle.

"My hesitation move, they didn't know how quick I was," Beaudry said. "They probably underestimated my size. I was able to get to the rim good and finish."

Wisconsin coach Mike Swartz of Hurley said Michigan's quickness was key.

"They had some good, shifty guards," he said. "That kid from Ontonagon, he's crafty with the ball. Their speed was able to open some things up, get some uncontested layups. Help was a little late. It's tough to get the guys to play defense the way you want them to, and to see the things you want to see, when you only get one practice with them."

It was all Vandenberghe of Solon Springs in the first half as he scored 17 points and had a handful of dunks. He put on a show.

"Holy cow, did he ever," Swartz said "He shot out of a cannon, he can get up the court quick. He had some nice dunks, I bet you he had six dunks in the first half and finished at the rim. He's a nice player. He's got length on him, real quick and he handled the ball well tonight, too.

"(Second half), they forced the ball out of his hands. they doubled him a little bit."

Hurley's James Sukanen scored 10 points for Wisconsin. Brant Schick of Washburn scored 18.

Jack Boro of Ewen-Trout Creek had four points.

"It was a lot of fun," Swartz said. "I'm really happy with the guys. They competed hard. I think Russ (Maki) and the Kiwanis did a fantastic job. It's a great event I'd like to see keep going for years."

Wisconsin - Brandon Reinthaler 5, Adam Vandenberghe 26, Cole Herzan 13, Brant Schick 18, Ryan Giannoni 4, Connor Bouchard 5, Tyler Marquardt 10, James Sukanen 10, Blaine Bauer 13. FTs: 11-21. Fouls: 17. 3-pointers: Herzan 3, Schick 3, Bauer 2, Marquardt 1, Reinthaler 1, Vandenberghe 1.

Michigan - Taylor Beaudry 19, Jay Lori 14, Arthur Lyons 14, Troy Ekberg 14, Adam Nolde 4, Collin Gagnon 20, Lucas Klein 10, Jack Boro 4, Morgan Cox 6. FTs: 16-25. Fouls: 18. 3-pointers: Gagnon 4, Lyons 3, Beaudry 1, Ekberg 1.

Half: Wisconsin 52-44.


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