The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Eight locals to play in fifth annual Border Bash


April 21, 2018

IRONWOOD — Last year’s Kiwanis Border Bash all-star basketball game wasn’t going to be easy to top, not with members of the three-time state champion North Central boys team filling the Lindquist Center gym and leading Northern Michigan to a victory.

“That’s what everybody was telling me, but I think we got close” for this year’s games, event director Russ Maki said. “We should pack that gym again.”

Ewen-Trout Creek standout Jake Witt headlines a talented group that pits many of the top boys and girls basketball players in the Upper Peninsula and the northern half of Wisconsin against each other.

Mr. and Miss U.P. Basketball will be here for the Wednesday, June 6 contest, along with a total of seven all-state first team selections.

Maki is most excited to see Witt, named Mr. U.P. Basketball last month, match up with Northern Wisconsin’s Owen White of Rhinelander in the boys contest. Witt checks in at 6-7, White at 6-6 and both are committed to Michigan Tech.

“I think that’s going to be the headline of the whole thing, those two,” Maki said.

On the girls side, Maki expects a good battle inside between Flambeau’s Jordan Ludescher (6-1) and Miss U.P. Basketball Linnie Gustafson (6-1) of St. Ignace.

There’s certainly a lot of other reasons to make it to Ironwood that night. Here’s a breakdown of both the boys and girls teams, which includes players from both of the U.P. teams to make it downstate, the Chassell girls and Dollar Bay boys, and seven All-U.P. Dream Team selections.

The girls game starts at 5:30 p.m. on June 6 with the boys game to follow at 7 p.m. The games are 52 minutes long.

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Devin Schmitz and Witt will team up at Michigan Tech in the fall and in Ironwood in June; both were all-state honorees as seniors. When they went up against each other in the regular season, more than 3,000 people packed Michigan Tech’s Wood Gym as the Blue Bolts won on their way to a perfect regular season. They went on to advance to the state semifinal behind Schmitz, the school’s all-time leading scorer at 1,674 points, and Jaden Janke, who also cleared 1,000 points and will also play in the Border Bash. Dollar Bay’s coach, Jesse Kentala, was coach of the year in the U.P. and Michigan, will coach.

Three of the five U.P. Dream Teamers will suit up — Witt, Schmitz and Ishpeming’s Hart Holmgren, a 6-5 Northern Michigan University recruit. Gladstone’s Brad Spindler, a Lake Superior State University commit, will also join them.

Some of the best players from the Gogebic Range will also be playing with All-U.P. Second Teamer Jacob Suzik of Wakefield-Marenisco and Brayden Tomes of Bessemer joining forces with Witt on Northern Michigan. Both Tomes and Suzik have committed to play at GCC next fall. Hurley’s Isaac DeCarlo will play for Northern Wisconsin.

Half of the Northern Michigan boys team played in the Class D regional tournament at Negaunee last month.

DeCarlo will be joined by Indianhead Conference Player of the Year Connor Sorenson of sectional finalist South Shore. Sorenson and White were honorable mention all-state in Wisconsin.

Kade Bartelt of Northwestern was an all-state quarterback in the fall and Rhinelander’s Brad Comer is on his way to play baseball at Winona State. Amherst’s Colton Groholski was basketball player of the year in the East Division of the Central Wisconsin Conference.

Northern Wisconsin will be coached by Derek Lemmens of Rhinelander, which went unbeaten in the Great Northern Conference.

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Four Gogebic County players, four Dream Teamers and two All-U.P. First Team selections make up the stacked Northern Michigan girls team.

Miss U.P. Basketball Linnie Gustafson will make the 300-mile trip from state quarterfinalist St. Ignace. Her teams never lost before the quarterfinal. She is committed to play at Division II Northwood.

She’ll be getting the ball from U.P. Class D Player of the Year Milly Allen, who led Chassell to its first state final appearance. Along with Gustafson in the post, Allen will also have her teammate in Chassell, Sydney Danison, to look for. Danison committed this week to play at Lake Superior State University.

Gustafson and Allen were both all-state and Dream Team selections and so was Negaunee’s Natalie Bartle. Ishpeming’s Madigan Johns also made Dream Team.

None of them scored as many points as Bethany Baldwin, who scored more than 2,000 points in her career at Watersmeet. She will join forces with one-time rivals Taylor Manchester of Bessemer and Saundra Libertoski of Wakefield-Marenisco.

Ironwood’s Taylor Mylly will have a familiar coach in the Red Devils’ Kari Jacquart, who was named Indianhead Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Red Devils to their best finish in the conference (second).

Manchester, Libertoski and Mylly committed to play at Gogebic next fall.

There’s some pretty good competition from Northern Wisconsin.

Jordan Ludescher is going to Michigan Tech after leading Flambeau to a perfect regular season; she finished seventh in the state in scoring (24.9 per game) and was the only unanimous all-state selection in Division 5. She’ll be joined by twin sister, Morgan Ludescher, a UW-Stout commit. They’re both 6-1, but Morgan is more of a perimeter player with Jordan in the post.

Elcho’s Jessica Slowik was honorable mention all-state and is headed to UW-Stevens Point to play. Hayward’s Trinity Myer was co-player of the year in the Heart O’ North and is a Bemidji State (D-2) recruit.

Rib Lake’s Katie Cardey was an all-state selection.

Northwestern’s Katie Lundeen is going to play at Finlandia.

Butternut’s Gabby McCorison, the conference player of the year, and Washburn’s Emily Belanger will represent the Indianhead Conference on the Wisconsin side.

The team will be coached by Sean Augustyn, who led the Castle Guards to the Indianhead championship.


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