Mackey leads Michigan in border battle

IRONWOOD – The all-stars came to Ironwood Tuesday night, but the one who shined the brightest had the shortest distance to travel.

Ironwood’s Adam Mackey was named Most Valuable Player as Northern Michigan beat Northern Wisconsin 112-89 in Tuesday’s inaugural Kiwanis Classic Border Bash all-star basketball game at the Lindquist Center.

Michigan took the lead early and Wisconsin had to climb from behind all night. Michigan never pulled far away, but Wisconsin also never took a lead.

Mackey led Michigan with 23 points, including 14 in the first 24-minute half. It’s on the floor where he will play basketball, at Gogebic Community College, in the fall.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “Especially playing with all these guys.”

Four players from Marquette and Baraga counties suited up for Michigan – Luke Woods of Westwood, Justin Nyquist of Gwinn and Ryan LaBerge and Jimmy Veker of L’Anse.

Northern Wisconsin coach Gary Giancola of Hurley has grown accustomed to Mackey’s high-level performances.

“When I went through the line, I said, ‘I guarantee you Adam, that’s the last time you’re going to beat us,'” Giancola said.

There was a ton of talent on the floor as the best graduates from both sides of the border competed. Bryant Rowe of Ironwood was Michigan’s second-leading scorer with 15 points. Nyquist and Veker each had 12 and Houghton’s Trent Keteri 10. LaBerge added eight and Woods six.

“I would love to coach a team like that all the time,” Michigan coach Jim Partanen of Bessemer said. “Jimmy Veker, he’s a football player, he played well. Justin Nyquist, he’s a tight end, but he played well.”

Wisconsin’s Malachi Bush of Chequamegon led all scorers with 25 points.

Michigan was able to play an uptempo game like it wanted, taking an early lead and never letting Wisconsin turn its momentum into a lead.

“I thought we played very well together,” Partanen said. “Everyone knew what they were doing. Everyone contributed. Everyone played really well.

“We watched the other team practice. We knew they were bigger. That (Tom) Whiting kid, the kid from Medford. We said we can’t play a half-court game. We wanted to make it an up-tempo game. We wanted to push and take the shots that were there. As a team, I thought we were more athletic.”

They were also physical against Whiting, who is 6-foot-6, Partanen said.