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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Maroon's Claim GNC Post Season Honors

Issue Date: April 13, 2022

The Menominee Maroons were one of the best boys basketball teams in the state of Michigan this season, so it's no surprise that they've hauled in a plethora of U.P. and Great Northern Conference awards in recent weeks.

After a 22-3 regular season record (8-0 GNC) and a run to the Michigan Division 3 state title game, the Maroons were named the U.P. Division 3 team of the year. Menominee coach Sam Larson was named the Division 1-3 coach of the year and senior Aidan Bellisle made the U.P. Dream Team. Five Maroon seniors earned some sort of GNC or U.P. honor.

Bellisle added the honor to his GNC Player of the Year award, which was announced earlier this spring. Bellisle, a four-year starter for the Maroons, contributed per-game totals of 16.7 points, 5 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his final season in maroon and gold.

"Just a kid that if you look at his track record, it's more than just this season. As a four-year starter, he was really good for us for four years now," Larson said. "This year, maybe not as big of a scoring load in some ways because we had so many other options on the floor that could score, but I thought his decision-making was great all season long, I thought his ability to create for others was great all season long, and he's a one-man press-breaker. There were teams that tried to press us at different points of the season, and as a coach I never spent a ton of time working on a press breaker because I had Aidan. If a guy cut to an open spot, you knew he was going to find him, and if the trap was suspect in any way, he could break it down himself. Awesome player."

Larson said Bellisle was a player that turned some heads down the stretch for people outside the Upper Peninsula as the Maroons made a run all the way to the state tournament, where they finished second in Division 3.

"Aidan Bellisle was fantastic. Starting that Iron Mountain game he was good, Westwood he was even better, and just continued it all the way through and probably turned some heads of people outside our immediate area that, "Hey, this guy can really play,'" Larson said.

Another player in that category was Brady Schultz, a GNC second-team player and U.P. Division 1-3 first-teamer. The 6-foot-6 forward battled a hip injury during the regular season that perhaps limited his output early on.

He ended up averaging 12.1 points per game over the course of the season, but by the end of the campaign, fans were seeing the true Brady Schultz, and no game better emphasizes that point than the state semifinal against Ecorse, where he poured in 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting.

Larson said Schultz was "undersold in some ways," but "as he got healthy toward the end of the year, we saw really what he can do and how good of a player he can be."

Schultz is headed to UW-Oshkosh next year, but he's a player that Larson said garnered a lot of attention from coaches at the state tournament. That extends to the defensive end as well.

"Brady's biggest thing this year was we knew he could score last year, and he did score last year, but this year he took a step in terms of his defensive ability where now we had a 6-6 guy with length that would put in the work, actually get down in a stance and guard people, and that was a game-changer," Larson said. "Brady Schultz kind of took it as a challenge and accepted the challenge to become a pretty darn good defender for us this entire season."

He ended up recording 2.1 blocks per game and 5.1 rebounds per contest over the course of the season.

Cooper Conway made both the GNC and U.P. first teams. He finished with 10 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per contest over the season, but in conference play, he recorded more than nine rebounds per contest. He was another player that showcased his offensive abilities really well against Ecorse, scoring 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field.

"Coop's a solid shooter and just a really steady player for us. He makes good decisions with the basketball, and as a big, he's kind of a game-changer in the fact that he's able to step out and make those outside shots," Larson said. "We feel really comfortable with him having the ball on the perimeter and making decisions, whether it's to shoot the basketball or to give it to somebody else."

Brady Badker was the Great Northern Conference defensive player of the year and a U.P. second team selection. He finished with 1.9 steals per game, but he does a lot of things that show up on the stat sheet as well.

Larson said Badker was open that he didn't care about points, or any other stats, for that matter. He just "wanted to dog people."

"And that's what he did. If you watch every game that we played, whoever the guard was on the other team, when they got the ball in bounds, Brady Badker was sitting there in a stance ready to bother them the entire game," Larson said. "As a coach, it's really a dream to have a kid like that. He's going to expend every ounce of energy that he has on the defensive end of the floor and offensively, he's willing to take a back seat and score when needed but really let the other guys do their thing. Once he gets the ball back in, he's geared up and ready to go."

Brody Waara was a GNC special mention and a U.P. honorable mention. He scored 6.8 points per game and provided 2.2 assists per game.

"Brody was a good 3-point shooter for us and a knock down shooter, but also defensively, a guy that took huge strides this year," Larson said. "As a junior, you wouldn't label him as a real solid defender, but this year, his pressure and positioning and everything else just took major steps and he bought into what we were trying to do and had a really nice season for us."

Beyond those five seniors, Menominee has three more players that graduate this year: Aden Laurin, Andrew MacIntyre, and Jonathan Lewis.

"We're going to miss them," Larson said. "I thought the three sophomores that we played did an awesome job for us. Obviously they will have bigger shoes to fill next year, but I think the experience of this whole run is invaluable to their growth and development. The hope is that kind of passes the torch along and carries through."

The Menominee girls, known for their suffocating defense, had a pretty good season as well. The Maroons were 14-7 overall on the season, and finished second in the GNC with a 6-2 record, led by Anna Nerat.

Nerat finished her senior season by making the GNC first team and all-defensive team, as well as the U.P. Division 1-3 second team.

Fellow senior Kennedy Olson made the GNC first team and was a U.P. special mention, Anna Axtell was a second-teamer in the conference and a U.P. honorable mention, and Rylee Doyle was an honorable mention in both the conference and U.P.

Doyle, Nerat, Olson, Madison Derusha, Makayla Sinks, and Rylee Wickstrom graduate from the Maroon ranks this spring.


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