Few changes in fourth U.P. basketball poll

By BRANDON VEALE

bveale@mininggazette.com

HOUGHTON – Like most of the rest of the Upper Peninsula, Week 4 of the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association basketball polls appears to be frozen in place from the week before.

Only four of the 20 ranked teams changed positions this week, and one of them is Lake Linden-Hubbell, which dropped a spot to fifth in the Class D voting.

North Central (11-0) continues to lead the group and remains ranked No. 2 in the state. They did nothing to shake the confidence in them last week, routing both Mid Peninsula and next-door neighbor Bark River-Harris. The Jets also got forward Travis Vincent back from an ankle sprain earlier than expected, after just two games on the sideline.

Munising (8-1) remains No. 2 despite suffering its first loss of the season – but there was no penalty considering the loss was to Class ABC No. 1 Marquette, 54-46 on Tuesday.

Marquette led 21-5 after a quarter, with Munising bringing the game back inside single digits during reserve time.

Larry Burnette and Vejas Grazulis each had 14 points for MSHS.

Cedarville, 8-1, remains No. 3 after a win over Rudyard Wednesday, but has been joined at the position by 9-0 Forest Park. The Trojans have risen to the occasion as the capabilities of their opponents have risen, beating a 6-3 North Dickinson team 71-67 in Skyline Conference play.

Lake Linden-Hubbell (11-0), meanwhile, appears to be getting penalized for the relative weakness of its schedule. The Lakes’ 11 victims have a combined winning percentage of .272 (31-83 record), with sub-.500 Republic-Michigamme and Ontonagon scheduled this week.

However, six of LL-H’s seven February opponents currently have winning records.

Marquette (9-0) remains unanimously atop the Class ABC poll, followed by Negaunee on all ballots. The 10-1 Miners fended off Iron Mountain 62-51 at home Tuesday before blasting last-place Manistique 68-23 on the road Friday.

Ironwood (11-1), third on all ballots, stopped Washburn, Wis. 65-58 in a non-league game Tuesday before beating E-TC and Ontonagon at the tail end of the week.

Escanaba (7-3) remains a single point ahead of Ishpeming (7-2). Neither team has lost to anyone other than Marquette or Negaunee.

On the girls’ side, the only change is in the Class D poll, where Stephenson (10-1) was relegated a position after its loss to Coleman, Wis. last Monday.

Forest Park (13-0) remains No. 1, with Superior Central (12-1) now back up to No. 2. The Eagles (10-1) are down a spot to third.

Brimley (8-3) remains in fourth with seven points despite a week in which the Bays lost to Sault Ste. Marie Tuesday, three days after a road loss to Superior Central.

No. 5 Munising lost Tuesday at Newberry to fall to 8-3. The Mustangs’ Thursday game at Carney-Nadeau was postponed when their bus collided with a logging truck en route to the game.

Dollar Bay (8-3) also received votes, gaining three points after having just one last week.

Class ABC No. 1 Marquette clipped Menominee 62-37 Friday in its only game of the week, while No. 2 St. Ignace routed Pickford and Rudyard.

The arrangement of WestPAC teams is entirely unchanged from the week before. Houghton (13-1) has 14 poll points, L’Anse (10-1) 11 and Calumet (8-1) 5.