E-TC's Witt named to D First Team; Borseth, Berglund, Samardich Second Team selections
MARQUETTE - Four area players were named to the All-U.P. team at Wednesday's 67th annual boys basketball meeting of the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
Ewen-Trout Creek's Jake Witt added to his collection of postseason awards by earning a spot on the Class D First Team.
The 6-7 center averaged 24.2 points, 17 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game, while also earning the Copper Mountain Player of the Year award and a spot on the Associated Press Class D All-State team.
He led the Panthers to the District 127 championship with a dominating district final performance - 32 points, 18 boards, 6 blocks. E-TC won 62-60 in an upset over a Bessemer team that had won 10 games in a row, including a blowout win over the Panthers just eight days earlier.
"It was kind of a coming-out party for him this year," E-TC coach Brad Besonen said. "What he was able to do on the floor, especially with the youth we had on the team and the attention he was getting, it was an excellent season for him. It was the season he needed to have for us to be successful."
Witt shot 50 percent from behind the arc, a weapon he needed to avoid the double - and sometimes triple - teams he faced inside. He didn't just get his numbers with his size and strength, his athleticism made him a maddening matchup for opposing defenses.
"When all the teams we played this year that had good guards, the biggest aspect of his game was his ability to handle the ball, pass and keep us out of trouble against presses and pressure man-to-man defenses," Besonen said. "It was a big release valve to get the ball moving to where it needed to be. He was dynamic scoring the ball and defensively, protecting our rim so well with our lack of size and maturity, body-wise. I think that kept us out of some really dangerous spots against teams this year."
The best part for Witt and E-TC - and probably the worst part for the rest of the conference - is that he's just a junior.
He already has 1,162 points and 877 rebounds in his career.
He already has an offer to play at Michigan Tech.
His teammate, senior Austin Berglund, was one of three area Second Team selections in Class D.
Berglund came on late in the season, a key factor in the Panthers going from an 8-7 record to a 12-8 mark to end the regular season. He averaged 21.1 points per game in E-TC's final eight games, including the tournament run.
He averaged 16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He shot 47.9 percent from 3 (35-73).
Ontonagon senior Mitchell Borseth also made the Second Team.
He averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Borseth passed 1,000 career points while leading the Gladiators to a good season that included two wins over conference champion Dollar Bay.
"He's impossible to stop and he's got it all," W-M coach Terry Fetters said. "He's a very good outside shooter. ... He put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket."
Bessemer's Max Samardich managed to stand out on a balanced Speedboy team that went from a 2-5 start to the favorite to win the district.
He was their most consistent performer and he came up big when needed. That included coming up with eight straight points and three key rebounds down the stretch in a win over Dollar Bay.
"He could score the big points for us, but he'd also get the rebound, the loose balls for us, during our run," Bessemer coach Richard Matrella said.
Wakefield-Marenisco junior Jacob Suzik was a special mention.
Three other Copper Mountain players were honored to make it seven All-U.P. players from the conference.
Dollar Bay junior Devin Schmitz was a First Team selection. His solid season was boosted by a 40-point performance in a near-upset of eventual state champion North Central in the regional semifinal.
Dollar Bay's Jaden Janke and Jeffers Jaden Wood made the Second Team.
The Dream Team was made up of five seniors, including two from North Central and two from Negaunee.
Besides making Dream Team, North Central's Jason Whitens and Dawson Bilski were also the Players of the Year in Class D.
Whitens finished with 2,052 career points, fifth best all-time in the U.P. He averaged 22.6 poitns and 11.1 rebounds as a senior.
Whitens had won the award by himself the previous two seasons. He has not committed to a college nor has the basketball and football standout committed to a sport yet.
Bilski plans to play basketball at Michigan Tech.
Negaunee point guard Dre Tuominen and inside man Trent Bell were also Dream Team selections.
Bell, a Tech recruit, shot 69 percent from the field, while Tuominen had a 5.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Iron Mountain's Carson Wonders, a Northern Michigan recruit, finished with 1,467 points to make the Dream Team for the second time in his career.
He was also the Class ABC Player of the Year.