Four area players earn All-U.P. recognition in Division 4
ESCANABA — Four area boys basketball players received Division 4 All-Upper Peninsula recognition through online balloting Wednesday and Thursday by the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
Online voting replaced the association’s annual meeting due to the COVID-19 virus.
Carney-Nadeau’s Brett LaFord, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, and North Central’s 5-7 freshman guard Luke Gorzinski earned first team berths.
Rapid River’s Tyler Sundling, a 5-11 senior point guard, and Mid Peninsula’s Zach Englund, a 5-10 senior point guard, were second team selections.
Additional first team selections include Ewen-Trout Creek’s Jaden Borseth, Pickford’s Nick Edington and Brimley’s Zach Gross.
LaFord, the Skyline Central Conference Player of the Year, averaged 22.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. He scored a career-high 40 points in an 89-43 rout of Superior Central Jan. 28 and scored more than 1,100 points in his career.
He also set the single-game school record for steals at 12 during the season and drained 10 3-point shots in one game while averaging four assists and 4.2 steals per contest.
LaFord was also named to the league’s All-Defensive team and helped the Wolves finish with seven straight victories in a 15-7 season. He was a 44% field goal shooter and was 34% from 3-point range.
Gorzinski averaged 17.1 points, was an SCC first team selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. He scored more than 20 points five times and had a career-high 30 in a 66-54 triumph over Rapid River Jan. 20.
Coach Mike Malone calls Gorzinski one of North Central’s most complete freshman he’s ever coached, a program which includes current Western Michigan University cager Jason Whitens and Michigan Tech’s Dawson Bilski.
Gorzinski won both match-ups with Sundling with 30 and 28 points while holding the Rockets’ point guard to 12 and seven points. Sundling was referred to as the best point guard in Division 4 by numerous coaches.
Sundling, a four-year starter, averaged 17.5 points, five rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.7 steals this season. He was an SCC first team and All-Defensive team selection.
“Tyler has dedicated himself to the basketball program,” said Rockets coach Mitch Hall. “He loves to win and hates to lose. He has a lot of passion for the sport. He would love the opportunity to play after high school.”
Englund scored more than 1,000 points in just three years of varsity ball and averaged 17.5 points, 10 rebounds and three assists this year.
“You’d have to physically be there to see how important he was and how much he meant to the team,” said Mid Pen coach Mark Branstrom. “He had to take and lead the team. Under the circumstances, he made the team better because he had to. He gave it his all on the court all of the time. He’s an extremely athletic young man.”
Those receiving honorable mention include C-N’s Beau Koffman and Max Baumler, North Central’s Noah Gorzinski, Rapid River’s Tony DeMars and Superior Central’s Parker Maki.
Koffman carried a 12.9-point average, was a 34% shooter from 3-point land and averaged four boards, three steals and 2.9 assists. As a two-year starter on varsity, he was named to the SCC’s first team.
Baumler averaged 12.4 points, shot 37% from behind the arc and 42% overall. He also averaged 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and steals and gained second team honors in the SCC.
Noah Gorzinski averaged 14.6 points, scored more than 20 points four times and was North Central’s second leading scorer and a senior leader.
DeMars, a three-year varsity player, averaged 12.7 points and six rebounds, while Maki carried a 14-point average.