Two of a kind: Swanson, Jurmu among U.P.’s five best on Dream Team

MARQUETTE – Over the last few years, comparing Houghton forward Elisa Jurmu and L’Anse point guard Madi Swanson proved very difficult.

In the end, they’ll stand on the same level.

Both were elected to the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association All-Class Dream Team in voting taken Wednesday at Northern Michigan University’s Don H. Bottum University Center and released today.

The Lake Superior State-bound Swanson cracked a Dream Team that had no seniors the year before, which didn’t exactly mark the first time the tenacious 5-foot-2 slasher has broken into a space previously thought impenetrable.

She averaged 15.2 points, 6.4 assists and 3.5 steals for the 20-3 Purple Hornets and made a big mark in the record books, scoring her 1,000th career point while hanging 35 on Houghton in a road win in December and becoming L’Anse’s all-time leading girls’ scorer in a Feb. 6 win at Hancock.

She finishes her prep career with the second-most points in LHS history: 1,368.

Jurmu also capped an impressive prep career with 1,000 points, crossing the threshold in the regular season finale against Hancock and finishing with 1,045 points in only 59 varsity appearances.

The 5-9 forward averaged 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 steals en route to Associated Class B All-State honors, slightly up from her Class ABC Player of the Year season as a junior.

Jurmu was also named WestPAC Player of the Year in 2014 after sharing the award with Swanson in both’s junior seasons.

Jurmu did have to hand over the player of the year torch to St. Ignace Dream Teamer Kelley Wright.

Wright put up 16 points, eight rebounds and 6.5 steals a game as the Saints advanced to the state championship game before losing to Saginaw Nouvel.

Wright was a part of four trips to the Breslin Center for the state’s final four and was a part of an MHSAA-record 102 wins (against just five losses) in her varsity career.

The ABC award is something of a delayed reward for Wright, who signed to play for Escanaba native and ex-Michigan Tech coach John Barnes at Youngstown (Ohio) State. As a junior, she was merely the best player on an undefeated state championship team but did so in the shadow of Forest Park’s Lexi Gussert.

And what a shadow it was.

Gussert leaves Forest Park for Michigan State as indisputably the best female player, if not the best player, in U.P. history.

Any argument to the contrary is quickly dispelled by several numbers: First, 2,626, her final career point total, the most all-time by any player in the peninsula; second, 101, a state record total of three-pointers this year; and third, three, her unprecedented number of Class D Player of the Year awards (see related story).

The fifth Dream Team spot is also the only one that went to a non-senior: Marquette’s Hunter Viitala. The 5-8 junior averaged 21.2 points and made 54 percent of her attempts from the field for a Redette team that went 18-2.