Splitting hairs: Negaunee Miners’ Ella Mason, Escanaba’s Keira Maki share Upper Peninsula All-Star Basketball Girls MVP | News, sports, jobs

Negaunee’s Ella Mason, left, is closely watched by Detroit Edison’s Nabrea Lane as Mason brings the ball down the court during their MHSAA Division 2 girls basketball semifinal game played at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center in East Lansing on 22 March. (Photo courtesy of Cara Kampen)

ST. IGNACE — For 37 years, choosing the most valuable player at the UP all-star basketball games was relatively easy. One player always seemed to stand out.

But on Saturday, Ella Mason of Negaunee and Keira Maki of Escanaba both stood out in the annual girls competition.

That’s why they shared Most Valuable Player awards for the first time as they combined their talents to help the East Girls overcome a double-digit second-half deficit as East posted an 87-83 overtime victory in the opener of the 38th Annual Competition. Upper Peninsula All-Star Classic at LaSalle High School in St. Ignace.

Maki, who will play at Wisconsin-Stevens Point this fall, scored 24 points and pulled down a dozen rebounds, while Mason, who will attend and play at Michigan Tech, had 26 points. Maki had 17 points in the second half to spark the rally.

In the nightcap, Jonny Ingalls, playing his final game at St. Ignace after a stellar high school career with the Saints, scored a career-best 46 points to earn MVP honors as the East Boys won 110-103. Ingalls, elected Mr. in April. Upper Peninsula Basketball by the UP Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, added 11 rebounds, eight assists and four steals, with 25 of his points coming after the break. He was also named the state’s MHSAA Division 4 Player of the Year by the Michigan Associated Press.

Negaunee’s Jenna Maki, top, is waylaid by Negaunee’s Keira Waterman as she goes for a shot in the second quarter of their high school girls basketball game played at the Hematites gym on Feb. 9. (Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MHSAA Division 4 state champion Ishpeming’s Jenna Maki also earned plenty of attention for MVP honors in the girls game after scoring 26 points for the West.

She was coached by her high school coach, Ryan Reichel, who of course guided the Hematites to the state title less than three months ago, while the East was coached by Negaunee’s Mike O’Donnell, who guided Mason and the Miners to the Division 2. state semifinals in East Lansing.

“We had nothing to lose” Mason said after the girls game. “We have been fighting with each other for years. It’s cool to share (MVP).”

Maki said it was nice to have someone to share the burden.

‘Me and Ella knew we had to be leaders’ said the Escanaba star. “It felt good to play with her and not have one leader.”

Westwood’s Andrew Niemi, center left, is contested by Marquette’s Peter Closner in the first quarter of their high school boys basketball game played in the Barb Crill Gymnasium at Marquette Senior High School on Jan. 31. Jan is looking forward to the Redmen. van den Ende, left, and Jaxon Jurmu. (Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Ingalls, who will play basketball this winter at Northern Michigan University, where his father Doug also played, had a late basket and a three-point field goal. He said the East “had a little trouble” to start the game.

He added that earning MVP honors came in his last game at home “quite special. We just all won together.”

Doug Ingalls, son Jonny’s coach at St. Ignace and also for Saturday’s game, pointed out that he had been on the losing team for the last four games.

‘Everyone knows how competitive I am’ he said. “I didn’t want to lose four times in a row.”

The elder Ingalls announced his retirement as high school coach at the end of his last season.

A skills competition was held before the games. Andrew Niemi of Westwood, the only participant in the slam dunk portion, won that event. Grace Kleikamp of North Central defeated Maki 8-7 to win the girls 3-point shooting competition. Perry LeBlanc of Brimley won the free throw contest.

The last three all-star games have been held in St. Ignace and included a ferry ride around the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island donated by Shepler’s.

The 2025 and 2026 competitions will tentatively be held in Escanaba at Bay de Noc Community College.

Several other players from the area were also expected to participate in the match.

For the East Girls, Callie Rajala of Negaunee also broke into double figures with 11 points, while Danielle Lund of Manistique had six and Emersyn Crisp of Munising had two. Marquette’s Kyley Elmblad and Newberry’s Lucia Rabachova were also on the initial roster for the East.

For the West girls, Megan Marta of Westwood scored 12 points, McKenna Hendrickson of Baraga had 10 and Jaycee Larson, also of Baraga, had six, while Kadie Kaukola of Ishpeming had one point.

For the East boys, Wyatt Demers of Manistique scored 14 points while Trent Rutter of Superior Central had four, and for the West boys, Niemi scored 15 while Gavin Saunders of Negaunee did not score.


Here are the full point totals:

East girls – Callie Rajala 11, Ceara LeBlanc 2, Chloe May 3, Keira Maki 24, Lucie Rabachova 3, Emersyn Crisp 2, Danielle Lund 6, Ella Mason 26, Autumn Trombley 9, Allison Cece 4.

West Girls – Jenna Maki 26, McKenna Hendrickson 10, Megan Marta 12, Kadie Kaukola 1, Anna Axtell 9, Brooke Stanislawski 3, Grace Kleikamp 3, Jaycee Larson 6, McKenzie Hoffmeyer 3, Danika Shamion 2, Adelyn Swain 0.


East boys — Cam Peterson 8, Wyatt Demers 14, Jon Ingalls 46, Nate Koepp 7, Brad VanDamme 7, Nick Hallberg 0, Perry LeBlanc 0, Trent Rutter 4, Ethan McLean 11, Drake Johnson 10.

West boys – Dan Marcotte 5, Connor Coduti 2, Levi Frahm 0, Shane Wallin 25, Felix Quevedo 1, Matt Schutz 7, Gavin Saunders 0, Andrew Niemi 15, Gaven Rintala 11.

Dennis Grall is the Executive Secretary of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame. He is also the retired sports editor of the Daily Press in Escanaba.

Today’s latest news and more in your inbox