All-U.P. Girls Basketball: Youth prevails among Superiorland selections

MARQUETTE – Hunter Viitala of Marquette Senior High School and Vanessa Freberg of Superior Central impressed Upper Peninsula girls basketball followers all season long.

Wednesday at Northern Michigan University, they impressed members of the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, as well, by being named to the peninsula’s “Dream Team.”

They led a total of 10 Superiorland players who picked up UPSSA laurels.

As the Great Northern Conference Player of the Year, Viitala averaged 16.9 points during the regular season. The 5-foot-8 sophomore also hauled in 5.6 rebounds a game while coming up with 70 steals and dishing out 37 assists.

“Her steals would get us into our offense and she made a number of 3-point shots (30),” said MSHS mentor and Class ABC Coach of the Year Ben Smith. “A lot of those plays were game-changing things that would get us off to a fast start.”

Freberg, a state Class D First Team selection and the Central U.P. League Player of the Year, tossed in 17.5 points a game while snaring 8.8 rebounds.

An All-U.P. first Team pick in 2011-12, she also averaged four steals and 2.6 assists this season.

“She doesn’t have a specific position because she can play them all,” SC head coach Greg Trowbridge said of the 5-9 junior. “She also guards our opponent’s best player if that player has some size.”

Several Superiorland players also gained All-U.P. laurels in voting by 23 UPSSA members.

Madi Swanson of L’Anse picked up a Class ABC First Team nod after averaging 19.5 points and 6.2 assists for the Purple Hornets. The 5-2 junior was the Co-MVP of the WestPac.

Gaining Second Team Class ABC berths – in alphabetical order – were local players Samantha Beaulieu of Newberry; Kyra Lauzon of Manistique; Valerie Rajala of L’Anse; Jessica Spencer of Ishpeming; and Liana Storm of Marquette.

A 5-7 senior, Beaulieu scored 11 points a game while averaging 10.2 rebounds and two blocks for the Indians.

Lauzon, a 5-6 senior, averaged 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.9 steals a contest.

L’Anse’s Rajala, a 5-9 junior, tossed in 11.7 points and grabbed 11 rebounds a game. She also came up with 2.8 steals and 4.5 assists each time out.

Spencer, a 5-10 sophomore, scored 12 points a game while averaging 7.1 rebounds. She also came up with 2.5 assists and two steals a contest.

“She’s willing to do whatever it takes for her team to win,” Hematites’ head coach Mark Dellangelo said. “Her hard work and dedication to her team are great examples (for her teammates).”

Storm is a 5-5 senior who tossed in 102 points (5.1) and hauled in 3.5 rebounds a game from her point guard position. She also made 87 steals (4.5) and collected 112 assists (7.0) for the Redettes.

“She blossomed into a leadership role this season,” Smith said. “She did everything you can ask of a point guard to do.”

In Class D, Superiorland players Teslyn Tyner and Brooke Pasanen of Superior Central earned All-U.P. berths.

Tyner, a 5-3 junior, made the First Team after scoring 13.1 points per game during the regular season while also averaging 5.2 steals, 3.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

She sank 50 percent of her two-point shots and 35 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“Teslyn’s a well-rounded player, quick with a nice jump shot,” Trowbridge said of the state Class D honorable mention pick.

The Cougars’ Pasanen was named to the Class D Second Team. The 5-6 junior averaged 12.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 2012-13 while sinking 70 percent of her free throws.

“She’s a hard worker who pretty much did whatever I needed defensively,” Trowbridge said. “She’s also strong to the basket.”

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is