Split at 32nd UP All-Star Classic
By DENNIS GRALL
For the UPSHF
MARQUETTE — The excellence that has been a huge part of the success at North Central High School continued here Saturday at the 32nd annual U.P. All-Star Classic.
Dawson Bilski earned outstanding player honors as he led the South to an entertaining 126-116 victory. Bilski had a game-best 34 points and buried six triples to highlight a classic shootout of talented marksmen in a game sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
Bilski and three of his three-time Class D state champion teammates were under the direction of their prep coach, Adam Mercier. The Jets have won a nation-leading 83 straight games and broke the state record of 65 consecutive victories set by Chassell in 1956-58.
Jason Whitens, who was U.P. Class D co-player of the year with Bilski, added 18 points. Whitens is fifth on the all-time U.P. boys scoring chart with 2,062 points and will play basketball at Western Michigan University. Bilski and Trent Bell of Negaunee, who led North with 28 points, will be teammates at Michigan Tech.
Carson Wonders of Iron Mountain, a Northern Michigan University basketball recruit, also had 18 points for South. Justin Bal of Norway added 17 points and A.J. Weisnicht of West Iron County collected 14.
South trailed 32-31 after the first quarter but took a 72-61 halftime lead that expanded to 99-73 entering the final frame.
The 126 points is a single-game team record in this series, as is the 242 total points. North’s total of 116 points has only been exceeded two times.
“It was a great way to cap off their careers together,” Mercier said of his quartet of Jets capturing yet another milestone victory. “Their expectations will always be high. They want to perform well.”
It is the first time in three games as all-star coach that Mercier’s team has won. “Both teams played really hard,” he said of Saturday’s showdown.
Bilski was happy to earn top honors from among a top group of excellent cagers, but was typically subdued. “It is a great feeling,” he said. “All I have accomplished, I did with my teammates. It means a lot to be MVP with all the great players on my team. It is a special feeling for me.”
Bilski said the team did not run many set plays. “We didn’t have to run plays, we got open shots,” he said. “It is nice to have a team like we did. It was one last hurrah.”
Ryley Alaspa of Sault Ste. Marie also canned six trifectas and finished with 20 points for North while Dre Tuominen of Negaunee had 19 points and Derrick Eddington of Pickford added 15 points.
Tuominen and Bal will be among the players who will help Bay de Noc Community College of Escanaba resume a basketball program this fall.
The girls game was won by North, 63-50. A running clock was mistakenly used in the first half.
Taylor Bryant of Newberry earned outstanding player honors after scoring 13 points to go with several assists and steals for North. Hailey Wickstrom of Calumet added 12 points and Kayla Rambo of Pickford had 11 points.
Frankie Mattson of Munising had 15 points for South. Mattson was among four recipients of a scholarship from the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, which sponsors the game and uses the proceeds for the scholarship program.
A variety of pre-game skills contests were held. Bailey Froberg of L’Anse won the girls free throw contest, Maijas Sebbas of Hancock and Mitchell Borseth of Ontonagon won the girls and boys 3-point contests and Eddington was the slam dunk winner.
North girls: Maija Sebbas 2, Taylor Bryant 13, Olivia Vaughn 4, Bailey Froberg 7, Madison Wilkie 4, Kayla Rambo 11, Carsyn Osterman 8, Hailey Wickstrom 12, Marisa Maino 2.
South girls: Britta Grayvold 5, Marissa Immel 3, Abby Nylund 6, Jordan Kraemer 5, Jordan Bellville 1, Emmy Kinner 3, Frankie Mattson 15, Kelsey Boucher 2, Jen Brandt 7, Rebekah Kolenda 3.
North boys: Derrick Eddington 15, Jaden Wood 8, Dre Tuominen 19, Mitchell Borseth 7, Austin Berglund 2, Ryley Alaspa 20, Alex DuVall 8, Duane Englund 6, Trent Bell 28.
South boys: Marcus Krachinski 5, A.J. Weisnicht 14, Marcus McKenney 6, Dawson Bilski 34, Bobby Kleiman 2, Darien Nicholds 5, Tyler Willette 7, Justin Bal 17, Jason Whitens 18, Carson Wonders 18.