Border Bash: White’s 28 points leads Wisconsin over Michigan

Norway's Connor Ortman of team Northern Michigan goes to the basket in Wednesday's Kiwanis Classic Border Bash high school showcase at the Lindquist Center in Ironwood. (Jason Juno/The Daily Globe)

IRONWOOD — One future Michigan Tech player walked out as MVP, another put on a show for the crowd and would have been the MVP had his team won.

Rhinelander’s 6-foot-6 Owen White had 28 points to lead Northern Wisconsin to a 104-94 victory over Northern Michigan in the Kiwanis Classic.

Ewen-Trout Creek’s 6-7 Jake Witt finished with 20 points to lead the Michigan players, but it was the three dunks he had that got the crowd buzzing, especially the first one when he slammed it down with authority over a Wisconsin player.

“Oh wow,” Dollar Bay coach Jesse Kentala said. “That was, I think, the moment of this game, that was a beautiful dunk. We don’t get to see things like that up where we’re at as far as basketball goes, so to see that kind of dunk and athleticism is pretty neat.”

Hurley guard Isaac DeCarlo had the misfortune of being under the basket when Witt elevated and extended over him for the slam.

“I saw the guy who was supposed to be covering me, he was jogging down to the left of me, I just gave a little push with the ball, nobody was looking, I came straight in and slammed it down,” Witt said.

Dollar Bay and E-TC have been in some epic battles in recent years, but they were all on the same side in this game with Witt representing the Panthers and Kentala, fellow Tech recruit Devin Schmitz and Jaden Janke from the Blue Bolts.

“It’s nice to play with him instead of against him for sure,” Kentala said of Witt. “What a great kid first and foremost, and a good athlete and competitor. It was nice to be on his team for once.”

Northern Wisconsin coach Derek Lemmens was the opposing coach this time.

“He’s just a man inside,” Lemmens said. “That’s a challenge itself, then when you surround him with good players, that just makes it more difficult. I thought the guys did a good job denying any easy touches and that was huge.”

For Northern Wisconsin, it was all about White. And Lemmens knows all about his game.

“He’s strong, he’s athletic and he can play inside and out,” said Lemmens, his coach Wednesday night and at Rhinelander. “So when you get a bigger guy that can control him inside, he’s going to be able to drag that player outside and when you have a guy that can stay with him outside, he’s going to drag that player inside. His versatility has really been a huge weapon over the years.”

Kentala was impressed.

“What a great player,” Kentala said. “I didn’t know much about him coming into the game – he’s fundamentally sound, good size, can shoot it from the outside, good post moves, just a really good fundamental basketball player. He’s going to be a great addition to Michigan Tech.”

Northern Michigan University recruit Hart Holmgren of Ishpeming tallied 16. Norway’s Connor Ortman had 11.

Kentala was happy to coach his players, Schmitz and Janke, again after they led the Blue Bolts to the state semifinal in March.

“Fun time, I love these guys, great kids, Devin and Jaden,” Kentala said. “Obviously, we’d like to have won, that’s basketball, sometimes the shots don’t go down.”


Negaunee’s Natalie Bartle scored 28 points to lead Northern Michigan to a 101-87 victory over Northern Wisconsin in the Kiwanis Classic Border Bash women’s game.

“She just was a tireless worker when she went in, she was just determined,” Northern Michigan Coach Kari Jacquart said of the game MVP. “Her offense in the first half spurred everything and it got some good things going for us inside. She’s a great all-around player. She definitely deserved the MVP in my opinion.”

St. Ignace’s Linnie Gustafson, named Miss UP Basketball in the spring and will play at Division-II Northwood, had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Northern Michigan.

Northern Wisconsin’s Jordan Ludescher of Flambeau had a team-high 22 points. She’s going to play at Michigan Tech next season after being all-state her senior year

The game was 52 minutes long, four minutes longer than Wednesday night’s NBA Finals contest.