Sixth Annual Border Bash All-Star Basketball Game set for Wednesday

Published: Jun. 4, 2019 at 3:21 PM EDT
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The girls and boys all-star games pitting top players from Northern Michigan against some of the best from Northern Wisconsin are set for Wednesday, June 5 at the Lindquist Center in Ironwood.

The game has attracted big crowds and big talent in recent years with Ewen-Trout Creek’s Jake Witt headlining last year’s game and three of the top players from the three-time state champion North Central boys team the year before.

That made it easier to attract another talented roster this year, which includes members of four teams that have made recent trips to the state tournament.

“It’s been a lot easier recruiting,” said Russ Maki, who started the game in 2014 and continues to be its director. “It only took 2.5 weeks and I had 40 players because everybody has heard of the game now. Even the Clayton coach had heard of it.”

He certainly recruited a good group of coaches.

Longtime Ironwood coach Pete Lewinski will lead the Northern Michigan boys after leading the Red Devils to an undefeated Indianhead Conference season. He will go up against Northwestern’s Nolan Graff, who took the Tigers to state last month in his first year on the job.

U.P. Sports Hall of Famer Dorene Ingalls will coach the Northern Michigan Girls. She took St. Ignace to state tournament for the 11th time in March and fell in the state championship game to Adrian Lenawee Christian. Her teams have won the state title five times and this was their fourth runner-up finish.

Ingalls came to the Border Bash last year to watch her player, last year’s Miss Basketball Linnie Gustafson. When Maki called to ask about this year’s Miss Basketball, Emily Coveyou, he said he also needed a coach.

“She said, ‘I’ll coach, you have a great thing going,’” Maki said. “Really happy to have her, she’s a great coach.”

Kevin Fall will lead the Northern Wisconsin Girls after taking the Bears to the state tournament in each of the past four seasons.

“I think in all the history of the Border Bash, we haven’t had coaches of this caliber coming here,” Maki said.

All four will also bring some talented players with them.

Revoyr became just the third player in Ironwood history to reach the 1,000-point mark this season. He was the top player on an Ironwood team that captivated the community as it won the first 17 games of the season.

Coveyou will play for Ingalls. She finished sixth in St. Ignace history with 1,547 points and averaged 23.1 points and 10.3 rebounds despite playing hurt all year because of exertional compartment syndrome.

Three Clayton girls will play for Northern Wisconsin — leading scorer Kailey Ketz, Alison Leslie and Kiana Fall. Ketz and Leslie both made the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State team in Division 5. Fall was one of just 16 WIAA Scholar Athletes this year. She made a shot falling toward the basket at the buzzer in the 2018 sectional semifinal to keep their season alive.

“I was really happy and surprised they accepted and they were really honored to come here,” Maki said. “That’s going to be a good battle against the Michigan girls, especially (because they are) led by a 6-0 all-stater (Coveyou).”

That group of Clayton seniors went to state in all four years in both basketball and volleyball. They made the state hoops final this season for the first time but lost to Blackhawk. Clayton won one state volleyball championship.

Graff will be joined by his players, Brody Payton, a Minnesota-Duluth football recruit, and Sam Risley. Graff, just 25 years old, coached his younger brother, Jenner, this season at Northwestern.

Lewinski is excited for the opportunity.

“It’s very special because you’re coaching such talented players and it’s quite an honor to be selected, first time that I’ve been chosen. I’m looking forward to it, it should be a fun night,” he said. “I’m trying to think of a few things I could do, but basically I’m going to let their talent take over and try to let them dictate what they’re going to do and basically let them have fun and showcase their skills that night.”

He is also happy to have another chance to coach Revoyr and to have local players like Busch and Saubert on his side for a change. Busch led Bessemer to its first district title since 2004.

“(Revoyr’s) had a special season and a special career at Ironwood,” Lewinski said. “Mason Saubert, just an outstanding shooter and Busch is such a strong player and so tough inside. That’s going to be fun. (Thewis) had a great career at Hurley, too. Tough player.”

The games are 52-minutes long. The girls will play at 5:30 p.m. followed by the boys at 7.

Some other highlights include:

—Indianhead Conference Player of the Year Alex Schmidt couldn’t play due to his senior class trip. Central Wisconsin North Conference Player of the Year Jeven Sachtjen of Manawa will play. He’s the nephew of Mercer coach Adam Miller.

—Chassell’s Jenna Pietila was one of the best defenders on the Panthers’ run to the state championship game in 2018. She was an All-U.P. Second Team selection the last two seasons.

—Two Northern Michigan boys players are headed to the GLIAC to play basketball — All-U.P. Dream Teamers Matt Ojala of Calumet (Michigan Tech) and Reece Castor of Gladstone (Northern Michigan). Gwinn’s Tucker Taylor will play football at Michigan Tech.

—Engadine’s Andrew Blanchard of the Northern Michigan Boys, was an all-state selection in Division 4.

—Athens’ Kenadi Diedrich of the Northern Wisconsin Girls was also a WIAA Scholar Athlete. Teammate Julia Manor of Northwood passed 1,000 career points in a regional final win over Hurley in February. Rylee Nicoletti of South Shore signed to play at Gogebic.

—Slam dunk, 3-point and free throw competitions will be held. Forty-six inch trophies will be given to the Most Valuable Players from each game.


Northern Michigan

Andrew Blanchard, Engadine, 6-3

Tyler Busch, Bessemer, 6-5

Reece Castor, Gladstone, 6-4

Abe Gockenbach, Chassell, 6-0

Matt Ojala, Calumet, 6-1

Caden Pellizzer, West Iron County, 6-1

Eddy Polakowski, Ontonagon, 6-5

Griffen Revoyr, Ironwood, 6-3

Mason Saubert, Wakefield-Marenisco, 5-11

Tucker Taylor, Gwinn, 6-4

Coach: Pete Lewinski, Ironwood

Northern Wisconsin

Bailey Blanchard, Clear Lake, 6-5

Trace Brayton, Prentice, 6-1

Craig Burger, Hayward, 6-0

Austin Edwards, Phillips, 6-0

Jon Jurries, Lakeland, 6-3

Brody Payton, Northwestern, 6-4

Sam Risley, Northwestern, 6-3

Jeven Sachtjen, Manawa, 6-6

Bradley Sarauer, Bloomer, 6-3

Carson Thewis, Hurley, 6-0

Coach: Nolan Graff, Northwestern


Northern Michigan

Emily Coveyou, St. Ignace, 6-0

Martina Jahfetson, Baraga, 5-5

MacKenzie Karki, Negaunee, 5-4

Sydney Kivi, Marquette, 5-9

Abby Nelson, Negaunee, 5-10

Jenna Pietila, Chassell, 5-5

Madison Pruett, Ishpeming, 5-4

Layla Blahnik-Thoune, Carney-Nadeau, 5-9

Holly Wardynski, Ontonagon, 5-5

Coach: Dorene Ingalls, St. Ignace

Northern Wisconsin

McKenzie Correll, Northwestern, 5-3

Kenadi DIedrich, Athens, 5-7

Kiana Fall, Clayton, 5-3

Kailey Ketz, Clayton, 5-7

Alison Leslie, Clayton, 5-9

Julia Manor, Northwood, 5-6

Rylee Nicoletti, South Shore, 5-7

Megan Priest, Mosinee, 5-10

Alyssa Schellin, Prentice, 5-6

Desirae Weissmiller, Medford, 5-6

Coach: Kevin Fall, Clayton

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