All-U.P. Girls Basketball: Marquette’s Viitala back on Dream Team for second-straight season

MARQUETTE – As former baseball player/manager Yogi Berra is purported to have said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”

Hunter Viitala of Marquette Senior High School has once again been named to the Upper Peninsula girls basketball “Dream Team.” It’s the second straight season she has been so honored.

The 5-foot-8 junior wing is one of 11 Superiorland players selected for All-U.P. honors by members of the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association at a meeting Wednesday on the Northern Michigan University campus in Marquette.

Viitala scored 425 points in 20 regular season games this season for a 21.2 average. She also averaged 5.0 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 2.4 assists for the Redettes.

An honorable mention Class A all-state selection, Viitala earned her second straight Great Northern Conference Player of the Year nod while also making the league’s All-Defensive Team.

“A lot of what she does is not necessarily on the stat sheet,” MSHS head coach Ben Smith said. “She plays hard, setting the tempo for us defensively.”

Also making the Dream Team is Madi Swanson of L’Anse. Headed for Lake Superior State, the 5-2 senior tossed in 15.2 points a game while averaging 6.4 assists and 3.5 steals

Swanson ended her prep career with 1,368 points.

Superiorland players making the All-U.P. Class ABC First Team were Jessica Spencer of Ishpeming and Elizabeth Dauphinais-VanBuren of Westwood.

A 5-9 junior guard, Spencer tossed in 363 points in 23 games for a 15.7 norm. The Mid-Peninsula Conference Player of the Year also averaged 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.0 steals.

Spencer canned 42 percent of her two-point shots and 72.6 percent from the free throw line.

“Her best asset is her work ethic,” IHS head coach Tom Graves said. “In practice and in games, she plays with high intensity and tries to get better.”

A 5-6 senior forward, Dauphinais-VanBuren averaged 12.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.3 steals for the Patriots en route to being named to the M-PC First Team.

“Lizzy was, without a doubt, the heart of our team,” WHS head coach Kurt Corcoran said. “Many times this year, she put our team on her back and led us to victory.”

Superiorland players making the Second Team in Class ABC are: Taylor Bryant of Newberry, Aleda Johnson of Negaunee, and Valerie Rajala and Kelsey Ross of L’Anse.

A 5-6 freshman, Bryant tossed in 13.8 ppg for the Indians. She also averaged 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 3.3 assists.

Johnson, a 5-3 freshman point guard, averaged 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals for Negaunee. She sank 36 percent of her two-point shots and 81.5 percent of her free throw attempts.

“She was my go-to person to run our offense from Day 1,” Miners’ head coach Brandon Sager said. “Other coaches have told me they fear the day when she realizes just how impossible she is to guard.”

Rajala scored 9.5 ppg while hauling in 10 rebounds a contest for L’Anse. The 5-9 senior also averaged 5.4 assists and 3.0 steals.

Purple Hornets teammate Ross, a 5-5 senior, netted 14.5 points a game. In addition, she averaged 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals.

In Class D, Vanessa Freberg of Superior Central picked up a First Team nod among four Superiorland players who gained All-U.P. honors.

A 5-9 senior, Freberg picked up Central Upper Peninsula League Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

She averaged 16.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 2.9 assists.

She finished with 1,399 career points, the most all time by a Superior Central boy or girl.

SC teammates Teslyn Tyner and Brooke Pasanen made the All-U.P. Class D Second Team, as did Frankie Mattson of Munising.

Tyner, a 5-3 senior for Cougars’ head coach Greg Trowbridge, scored at a 14-point clip per game. A CUP First Team pick and a member of the league’s All-Defensive squad, she hauled down three boards a contest, made 72 assists and came up with 75 steals.

Pasanen averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists this season. The CUP First Team selection also canned 48 percent of her shots from the field.

Mattson is a 5-8 freshman named to the CUP First Team after scoring 13.1 points and hauling down 11.5 rebounds a game for the Mustangs. She also averaged 2.7 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.7 assists.

“Frankie outplayed every ‘big’ in our conference except for (Superior Central’s) Vanessa Freberg,” Mustangs head coach Matt Mattson said of his daughter, adding Frankie came up with 21 double-doubles this season.

“She led our team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and was second in steals.”