ST. IGNACE - Three months after winning the Class D girls basketball state championship, the St. Ignace Saints will host the U.P. All-Star Classic basketball game Saturday.
The 28th annual event is sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, with proceeds going to help fund scholarships for U.P. athletes. One of those scholar-athlete recipients last month is Sarah Cullip of St. Ignace, who will play for the South girls Saturday.
The girls play at noon and the boys at 2 p.m. at LaSalle High School. There will also be skills contests before the game, with the girls competing in three-point and free throw shooting and the boys in three-point and slam dunk events.
A breakfast open to the public starts at 8:30 at the Mackinac Grill in downtown St. Ignace. Players and their parents will be guests of Star Lines and area merchants Friday night for a cruise into the Straits of Mackinac and a visit to Mackinac Island.
Several all-stars will continue their basketball careers in college, including three who will play at Northern Michigan University for first-year men's coach Bill Sall.
Wade Schetter of Carney-Nadeau and Caleb Harrington of Kingsford will be teammates on the South team Saturday while Brett Branstrom of Mid Peninsula will play on the North team. Branstrom was placed on the North team so he could play for his brother-in-law, Negaunee High School coach Mike O'Donnell.
Branstrom and Schetter are the all-time scoring leaders at their schools. Branstrom, a two-time Class D all-state selection, finished with 1,785 points and was the U.P. Class D player of the year. He also had 1,311 rebounds and 410 blocked shots. Schetter finished with 1,561 points. Both were also varsity basketball players as eighth graders, but their scoring records only include points scored in grades 9-12.
Dillon Gordon of Ewen-Trout Creek, who will join Branstrom on the North team, will play basketball at Michigan Tech. Another future Tech athlete is Aiden Wienke of Kingsford, who will play football for the Huskies. Wienke will play for the South.
Tanner Uren of Negaunee and A.J. Grazulis of Marquette have been invited to walk on for the Tech basketball team.
They will play for the North Saturday, as will the North team's one Houghton County player, 1,000-point scorer Troy Kinnunen of Jeffers.
Josh Hester of Cedarville, who will play for the South, will run track and cross country at Lake Superior State University.
For the North girls, Kylee Fitzpatrick of Sault Ste. Marie hopes to play volleyball at LSSU and Krysta VanDamme of Mid Peninsula will play basketball at St. Norbert College. They will play for the North.
Cullip, who helped St. Ignace to the state championship, will run cross country and track at Grand Valley State. South teammates Carlee Benzie of Kingsford, also a track standout, and Olivia Smith of Pickford will play basketball at Kirtland Community College. The South coach will be Dorene Ingalls of St. Ignace, who has led the Saints to four state championships.
The North girls, coached by Marquette's Ben Smith, will have several players who starred in local circuits this year.
Blaire Zenner represents Class C state semifinalist Houghton and is complemented by three players from the local Class D ranks: Jamie Dompier of Chassell, Zoey McGeshick of Ewen-Trout Creek and Chelsea Truscott of Ontonagon.