Area ballers will compete in Border Bash Tuesday in Ironwood

IRONWOOD – High School seniors locally and regionally aren’t done playing basketball yet.

The Kiwanis Club Border Bash is set for Tuesday at the Lindquist Center in Ironwood. The game will pit all-star seniors from the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin in boys’ and girls’ games complete with slam dunk and 3-point contests for the boys and 3-point and free throw competitions for the girls.

About a dozen years ago, Kiwanis sponsored boys and girls all-star games pitting the Porcupine Mountain Conference and the West-PAC. There simply weren’t enough players from a narrow pool to keep it going, according to organizer Russ Maki.

“It only lasted like three years and it fizzled out,” said Maki, the Youth Service Chairman for the Ironwood Kiwanis Club. He is preparing this year’s event.

Over the winter, Gogebic Community College women’s coach Mark Movrich brought up the idea, Maki said. Maki suggested making it Michigan vs. Wisconsin.

“It adds a lot of rivalry,” Maki said. “It’s nicknamed the Border Bash. A lot of these players never played against each other just because of high school scheduling. Basically what we said was, you have to be an all-conference or all-state selection to make this team. These are really good players.”

Players from the U.P. hail from the western two-thirds of the peninsula. In Wisconsin, players are coming from throughout the northern part of Wisconsin, from western areas like South Shore to Coleman in the east and Medford to the south.

Marquette County girls scheduled to participate include Westwood’s Caitlin Hewitt and Lizzy Dauphinais-VanBuren. For the boys, Gwinn’s Justin Nyquist and Westwood’s Luke Woods are slated to play.

Other standouts on the rosters include North Central’s Travis Vincent, who narrowly lost the U.P. Class D Player of the Year award this year and Dream Teamer Madi Swanson of L’Anse.

Hurley’s Gary Giancola will coach the Wisconsin boys. Giancola recently announced he is stepping aside as coach of the Midgets. Bessemer’s Jim Partanen will coach the Michigan boys.

Westwood’s Kurt Corcoran will coach the Michigan girls against Northland Pines’ Larry Bergum.

Organizers are making a day of it. There will be a free luncheon for the players, an hour of practice for each team and 28-inch MVP trophies awarded after each game. Expect a longer game to give everyone plenty of playing time, Maki said.

“For basketball gurus, it should be a good night,” Maki said.

The game is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Ironwood, which isn’t using it as a fundraiser.

“Kiwanis is all about helping youth,” Maki said. “We’re not making any money on this.”