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Border Bash: Wisconsin boys whip up Michigan in defenseless affair, 172-114

Michigan’s Connor LeClaire of Dollar Bay shoots around Wisconsin’s Devon Powell of Ashland on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash at Northland Pines School in Eagle River, Wis. (Jason Juno/Ironwood Daily Globe)

EAGLE RIVER, Wis. — Wisconsin Rapids coach Dan Witter imagined what the margin of victory could have been if his Northern Wisconsin all-star boys basketball team played more defense Wednesday night.

But when you score 172 points, you don’t really need to worry about that part of the game.

The impressive group of athletes from the Badger state jumped on Northern Michigan early and won 172-114 in the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash all-star game.

The scoreboard at Northland Pines’ gym was only big enough to add a No. 1 when teams hit triple digits. Until the running clock started late in the game, it looked like Wisconsin might have needed a 2 there.

High school teams, of course, very rarely clear even 100 points in either Michigan’s 32-minute games or Wisconsin’s 36-minute contests. But the Border Bash lasts 52 minutes, and as mentioned, defense doesn’t come along all that often. Wisconsin had 86 at the half and 100 with 23 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game.

“It’d be nice to coach that kind of talent all the time,” Witter said. “Most coaches have maybe one of those guys, it was nice to have all of them. You have size, you have shooting, you have speed. If they wanted to play defense, they could have really won.”

Most of the Wisconsin guys knew each other, Witter said. And it seemed that way in how they played.

Guard Devon Powell (5-10) of Ashland led everyone with 33 points and was named MVP. Teams that played Ashland in recent years like Hurley know what a handful he is to stop and that was certainly the case Wednesday night.

“He could be really good. He doesn’t right now understand some things, but he’s going to be really good,” Witter said. “He did a lot of things (Wednesday). He defended kids, he rebounded, he scored.”

At least three or four kids could have been MVP, he said.  

Cade Farber of Abbotsford put on a show for the large crowd in attendance, slamming it down several times, including on a throwdown alley oop, the highlight play of the night.

He had 25 points. 

“He doesn’t do a whole lot of different ones, but he really dunks,” Witter said. 

Hunter Ingels of Winneconne scored 29 points off seven 3s and he impressed Witter with the way he shot the basketball. Michigan Tech commit Dawson Nordgaard of West De Pere scored 12.

The Northern Michigan team had some excellent players, it just couldn’t match the athletes Wisconsin had across the board.

Jeffers’ Christian Hocking led Northern Michigan with 29 points.  He made three 3s and had an impressive slam of his own in the game and in the slam dunk competition, which he won, after he jumped over Dollar Bay’s Davin Hill and dunked it in.

“It was just a good time for him, I think,” his coach at Jeffers and Wednesday night, John Schutz, said. “He hasn’t committed to anybody yet, so maybe he’ll decide after this.”

On Michigan’s team, Witter was most impressed with Hocking and All-U.P. Dream Teamer Kam Karp of Marquette, who scored 23 points.

Negaunee’s Eli Loukkala scored 19 points, Hill had 15. Ewen-Trout Creek’s Tommy Cousineau couldn’t get a couple late shot attempts to go down.

It was a good night for the Copper Mountain Conference as Dollar Bay’s Connor LeClaire, the fourth member of the conference in the game, scored nine points.

As lopsided as the score was, Schutz said it was still good to get the team out there.

“(Wisconsin) was a very good team, but it was fun getting the boys out here, get one last game for them all,” he said.

Wisconsin won for the third straight time and now leads 4-3 all-time in the annual Border Bash.

The Border Bash took on added significance this year as it’s the only local all-star game being held. The U.P. All-Star Classic was canceled due to organizers not being able to secure a site in the central U.P.

Masks were not required for players or fans at the Border Bash. Organizer Russ Maki was impressed with the crowd of approximately 500 people, a typical Border Bash attendance at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.

Michigan 55 59 — 114

Wisconsin 86 86 — 172

Michigan (114) — Kam Karp (Marquette) 23, Beau Koffman (Carney-Nadeau) 6, Connor LeClaire (Dollar Bay) 9, Davin Hill (Dollar Bay) 15, Carter Hudson (Escanaba) 7, Eli Luokkala (Negaunee) 19, Christian Hocking (Jeffers) 29, Reid Hill (Gwinn) 6, Tommy Cousineau (E-TC) 0. FTs: 6-9. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Karp 1, Koffman 2, LeClaire 1, Hill 3, Hudson 1, Luokkala 3, Hocking 3.

Wisconsin (172) — Ross Skeen (Rhinelander) 14, Cade Farber (Abbotsford) 25, Devon Powell (Ashland) 33, Peyton Kuhn (Medford) 8, Richie Murphy (Cameron) 10, Weston Peplinski (Pacelli) 16, Dylan Lisita (Wisconsin Rapids) 5, Hunter Ingels (Winneconne) 29, Dawson Nordgaard (West De Pere) 12, Travis Towne (Rhinelander) 17. FTs: 11-14. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Skeen 1, Farber 1, Powell 3, Kuhn 2, Peplinski 4, Lisita 1, Nordgaard 2, Ingels 7, Towne 3.

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