Gold Medal Classic Women’s field begins this weekend with oodles of local talent

Bark River-Harris senior Lauren Zawada (14, in blue) attempts to muscle a shot attempt as Escanaba senior Morgan Maki (30) attempts to block it during the first quarter of a game on Dec. 15, 2023 at Escanaba High School. Zawada finished with a team-best 19 points.

HERMANSVILLE — As the final weekend of the 85th Gold Medal Classic Independent Basketball Tournament approaches, the Woman’s Division prepares to share the court with the Class A Men’s Division this weekend.

For the first time in tournament history, there will be a U.P. Senior girls All-Star team competing in the Woman’s Division, sponsored by Viau Inc. of Powers.

And this team is not short of talent.

Viau Inc. features UPSSA Dream Teamers Jenna Maki and Danica Shamion. Maki helped lead Ishpeming to its first ever state championship. Shamion, who broke the 1,000 career point threshold, will compete in track and field at Central Michigan University.

There’s also two UPSSA Division 1-3 First Team selections in Anna Axtell and Lauren Zawada.

Axtell finished her high school career at Menominee as a member of the maroons’ 1000-point club. Zawada, a two-time Skyline Central Conference MVP honoree, helped lead the Broncos to a 53-16 record in her three years on varsity, including a 21-3 finish this season.

Both will play at Bay College next year.

Kingsford senior and Division 1-3 All-U.P. Second Team selection Alaina Kowalski will also play for Viau Inc. Rounding out the All-Star squad are two former North Central cagers, Gracie Kleikamp and Sam Burton.

Kleikamp, who signed to play basketball at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wis. was a 2024 All-U.P. Special Mention selection.

Tournament manager Bryan Maule reports that there are six entries into this year’s Women’s bracket, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, with Shelby’s of Carney facing Bloniarz Farms of Perronville. The Delta County farmers roster features a host of former Stephenson and Bark River-Harris alumni.

Viau will take on BAE Massage of Hermansville at 11 a.m. BAE is led by former North Central and Bay College players Bree and Andie Arsenault. Bree Arsenault, who finished her collegiate career at Lakeland University, brings a handful of former Lakeland teammates to the tournament.

Also on the BAE roster are former Bay College cagers Juliann Wickman of North Dickinson and Kaitlyn Hardwick of Gladstone.

The winner of the 10 a.m. contest will take on Trenary Toast at 2 p.m., while the winner of the 11 a.m. Women’s game will take on Carney at 3 p.m. There will be losers bracket games in the division at both 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday.

The ladies winner bracket semifinal game will be at 9 a.m. Sunday, with a 10 a.m. losers bracket game also scheduled. At 1 p.m. the final of the losers bracket will be played with the Woman’s Division championship game to be held at 3 p.m.

Daily Press sports editor “The Big Dog” Mitch Vosburg contributed to this article.


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