F or the first time, a preseason player rankings poll was conducted to rate the top 25 boys and girls basketball players in the UP.
Five coaches and Bryce Derouin of Upbeat ranked the girls on a 25-point scale. A first-place vote warranted 25 points, while second-place was worth 24 and so on.
The coaches included one from the Copper Country, three from the Central UP and one on the east side.
The boys list is complete, and we’ll now begin rolling out the girls rankings over the coming days.
Munising senior Michaela Werner went back and forth with a lengthy Chassell frontcourt during last season’s regional final, finishing with 14 points. She averaged 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds and will likely be in the 2018-19 All-UP discussion.
Senior Caroline Freel averaged 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game last season for Cedarville while shooting 48 percent from the field. She helped the Trojans to a 20-4 record and a regional final appearance.
Engadine junior Sophia Vaughn stuffed the stat sheet last season, averaging 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 steals a game. She will be a key piece to an Engadine team trying to improve on last year’s 12-10 record. (Photo by Jason Juno)
Chassell senior Jenna Pietila was an important player on a Chassell team that made it to the Class D state title game. She averaged 9.6 points and 4.2 assists, and was one of the best defenders on a team that gave up just 32 points per game. Pietila will play an even bigger role for Chassell this season.
Senior Lauryn Bloniarz will play a big role on a Bark River-Harris team that went 18-6 last season. A strong post presence, Bloniarz averaged 9.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, while also shooting 48 percent from the field. She had 11 points and 13 rebounds in BR-H’s overtime loss to Chassell in the regional final.
As a Freshman for Ironwood last season, McKenzie Boyd scored 18 points a game, proving herself to be an up-and-coming talent in the UP. This year, she is expected to take on an even bigger role for the Red Devils, who went 15-6 last season. With such a big debut season, Boyd will certainly be amongst players mentioned in All-UP talks.
Escanaba senior Lexi Challier averaged 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 steals last season. She was also named all-conference first team, as well as first team all-defense in the Great Northern UP Conference. The 5-5 guard was also named All UP Class ABC Second Team.
Cassidi Stannard, a Bark River-Harris senior attended BR-H during her freshman and sophomore seasons before playing last year at Escanaba. Regarded by coaches as a player with a high basketball IQ, she is expected to slide into the system with ease. Stannard’s length also makes her a skilled defender, particularly at the top of a press.
West Iron County junior Emily Nelson is, at 6-1, a true post player, who nearly averaged a double-double last season (11.2 points, 9.8 rebounds a game). Nelson, who is starting to garner attention from Division II coaches, is expected to play an even bigger role this season.
Marquette’s Aspen Michelin only played six games on the varsity last season, but she made an impression. She is a lengthy player, capable of playing guard and post, who can get to the rim with ease. Expect her to play a big role for a Marquette team that graduated six seniors.
Last season Anna Malmquist ran the point for a West Iron County team that went 18-5. She averaged 7.7 points per game. Now, as a junior, Malmquist will continue to run the show for the Wykons, while playing a bigger role. Expect the capable athlete to get to the basket often this season.
Senior Sydney Kivi made her mark for Marquette last season as a strong post presence. At just 5-9, Kivi is undersized, however according to coach Ben Smith, she plays much bigger than she is due to her strength and determination. She shot 40 percent from the field last season and recorded several double-doubles.
Hailee Demers is the third Bronco to appear on this list. She averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds a game for a Bark River-Harris squad that went 18-6 on the season. She shot 50 percent from the field and received a special mention on the All-UP list.
Kingsford point guard Brooke Kriegl averaged 13 points per game last season. With the graduation of her sister, Jordan, the junior will play a much bigger role for the Flivvers this season. Her play earned her a Great Northern Conference second-team nod.
Negaunee senior Abby Nelson played a supporting role last season on a Negaunee team that went undefeated in the regular season. A sharpshooter capable of knocking down 3s from three feet behind the line, Nelson will look to expand on her scoring from last season (8 points per game). Her name was mentioned in last year’s All-UP meeting, and will surely come up again this season.
A Class ABC All-UP Second Teamer from last season, senior Riley Poupore averaged a double-double for Iron Mountain. She scored 18.7 points and grabbed 10 rebounds a game. Poupore was the conference leader in rebounds, while also recording 13 double-doubles on the season. She will have a strong case for First Team this time around.
As a sophomore last season, Forest Park’s Mercedes Simmons made a name for herself in the paint. The 6-1 center averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds a game, earning an All-UP Class D Second Team nod. She was also named to the All-Skyline Central team last year.
As just a sophomore, Elise Besonen of Ewen-Trout Creek is already a well-known player. She was the first eighth-grader to earn All-UP honors, making the second team, and last year she was named to the Class D First Team as a freshman. Besonen averaged 14 points and 2.5 steals last season with a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. She was also the defensive focus of E-TC’s opponents, battling through several box-and-1 defenses.
A Class ABC All-UP Second Team selection from last season, Tessa Leece averaged 11.3 points a game as the Patriots went 15-7. The junior is one of the best 3-point shooters in the UP, shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc last year, and finishing second in the Michigan Top Shooters Challenge two years in a row.
Westwood’s junior point guard, Madelyn Koski was a Class ABC First Teamer last season after she put up 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game. A capable shooter, Koski shot 87 percent from the free throw line. She also has the ability to handle pressure — Koski has run point for Westwood since her freshman year — and is able to drive and finish or kick to a shooter.
Escanaba sophomore Nicole Kamin is ready for a breakout season, and coach Mike Beveridge calls her the best pure shooter on the team. At 6-0, Kamin is a tall wing player capable of slashing to the hoop and using her leaping ability to pull down rebounds.
Gladstone’s sophomore center, Megan Crow, stands at 6-3 already making her a force in the paint. That, combined with the ability to shoot the midrange, draw fouls and knock down free throws will make her tough to guard this season. In addition, coach Andy Cretens calls her the hardest worker on the team and says her 3-point shooting is improving quickly.
A Class ABC Second Team selection last season, Marquette senior Avery Ledy averaged 11.5 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. She set her school block record and was an obvious choice for the GNC Defensive All-Conference First Team. Ledy also shot 46 percent from the field.
The West Iron County junior was named to the Class ABC All-UP Second Team and the West-PAC First Team last season, averaging 13.6 points and 9.7 rebounds a game. A versatile scoring threat, the 6-foot Golliher can shoot from the outside, attack the basket and post up. Golliher will likely be named to the All-UP Dream Team or Class ABC First Team this season.
The unanimous No. 1 for Upbeat’s Top 25, St. Ignace senior Emily Coveyou averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 steals last season while shooting 57 percent from the field. She was a Class ABC All-UP First Teamer, All-State honorable mention, and co-player of the year in her conference. Coveyou scored 35 points in a game twice last season and used her great hands to get 130 deflections in the passing lanes. She is a favorite, if not a lock for Dream Team this season.