Courtesy of Dennis Grall
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 3-point and free throw shooting and the boys in 3-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 has been invited to walk on for the Tech basketball team. He will play for the North Saturday.
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 all-star rosters:
North girls: Samantha Beaulieu, Newberry; Blaire Zenner, Houghton; Kylee
Fitzpatrick, Sault Ste. Marie; Jamie Dompier, Chassell; Zoey McGeshick,
Ewen-Trout Creek; Chelsea Truscott, Ontonagon; Kylee Erickson, West Iron
County; Krysta VanDamme, Mid Peninsula. Ben Smith of Marquette is the coach.
South girls: Carlee Benzie and Andrea Roell, Kingsford; Bailey Grayvold,
Norway; Kyra Lauzon, Manistique; Sarah Cullip, St. Ignace; Sarah
Madalinski, Bark River-Harris; Nicole Bouwma, DeTour; Olivia Smith,
Pickford. Coach is Dorene Ingalls of St. Ignace.
North boys: Dillon Gordon, Ewen-Trout Creek; Mark Pap and A.J. Grazulis,
Marquette; Tanner Uren, Negaunee; Ray Shon Anderson, Sault Ste. Marie;
Brett Branstrom, Mid Peninsula; Troy Kinnunen, Painesdale Jeffers; Gage
Webster, Munising; Taylor Smith, Bessemer; Eric Lane, Wakefield-Marenisco.
Coach is Mike O’Donnell of Negaunee.
South boys: Dan Lothrup, Brimley; Wade Schetter, Carney-Nadeau; Caleb
Harrington and Aiden Wienke, Kingsford; Taylor Huotari and Luke Zambon,
Iron Mountain; Derek Reetz, Gwinn; Austin Waara, West Iron County; Josh
Hester, Cedarville; Matt Verbrigghe, Superior Central; Curtis St. Louis,
St. Ignace. Coach is Adam Mercier of North Central.