Special to the EagleHerald
Menominee juniors Makenzie Wellner (far left), Josie Hofer (center left), Emma Anderson (center), Jenna Nolde (center right) and Erin Barrette (far right) all received recognition at the All-U.P. meeting done via email.
Special to the EagleHerald

Menominee juniors Makenzie Wellner (far left), Josie Hofer (center left), Emma Anderson (center), Jenna Nolde (center right) and Erin Barrette (far right) all received recognition at the All-U.P. meeting done via email.

MENOMINEE — While the Menominee girls basketball season did not end the way anyone would have guessed if you asked them at the beginning of the year, the Maroons cleaned up at the All-U.P. awards led by none other than their star player — junior Emma Anderson.

At last year’s All-U.P. meeting, Anderson, a sophomore at the time, was snubbed from the first team and given a second team selection.

After a year of growth and putting in work in the gym all summer, Anderson came back with a vengeance in her junior campaign as she averaged 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 53.7 percent shooting from the field to become Miss U.P. Basketball, Division 1-3 Player of the Year and earning a spot on the Dream Team. Her four junior teammates — Erin Barrette, Jenna Nolde, Josie Hofer and Makenzie Wellner — also received All-U.P. laurels as well as the Maroons winning Division 1-2 Team of the Year despite a scare the UPSSA voters would hold their last buzzer-beater loss against Gladstone in the district quarterfinals against them.

“Last year I felt like I should have gotten better than second team so in the summer I worked hard and played a lot of basketball,” Anderson said. “I was a little worried that the loss against Gladstone would look bad in the voters eyes and I wouldn’t have been surprised if it did, but I’m just really happy it didn’t.

“I’m excited I get to enjoy this with all of my teammates. We work so hard and push each other every day so this is just a really great feeling.”

Anderson put together a season that saw her score in double figures in 21 out of 21 games, with 12 of those games going for at least 20 points with a season-high of 28 in a payback win over Westwood. In addition to leading the Maroons in scoring, Anderson was also the leading rebounder with 149 and led the team in field goal percentage (53.7, 145-of-270), 3-point percentage (47.7, 41-86) and free throw percentage (84.4, 56-64). Some of her other season highlights were a 23-point, 15-rebound game against Escanaba; a 22 & 10 game against Kingsford and a 14-point, 13-rebound outing in Gillett. She also crossed the 1,000-point threshold and is sitting at 1,072 for her career — 167 behind Heather Nelson’s all-time girls record.

“Emma has improved every year since she was a freshman and it’s because of all the work she puts in during the offseason,” Menominee coach Lucas Chouinard said. “That game against Westwood was by far the best of her career and it was a statement game. I’m very proud of her and she really deserves this award.”

Her favorite memory of the season? Finally pulling off a season sweep of Marquette for the first time in over a decade.

“Marquette is always good and we always have to hear about how good they are,” Anderson said. “It felt good to beat them up in Marquette and then to beat them at home to clinch the undefeated season was so much sweeter.”

Barrette, a second team selection after grabbing an honorable mention nod as a sophomore and the Robin to Anderson’s Batman, led the Maroons in assists (3.04/game) and steals (3.95/game) while averaging 10.6 points and being the motor that kept Menominee running all season. She scored a season-high 21 points against Escanaba and showed off her ability to knock down shots from 3-point range with five against Esky and four in a home win over Kingsford.

Her ability to push the ball up the court against opposing team’s full-court pressure allowed Menominee plenty of free looks at the basket offensively, and defensively she hounded ball-handlers and jumped passing lanes like a psychic who knew what was coming before it happened. That ball-hawking prowess allowed her to break Menominee’s career steals record as a junior, topping Morgan Roman’s previous mark of 204 in the first quarter of a win over Stephenson. Barrette currently sits at 214 with another full season ahead of her, and coach Chouinard expects her to continue to build on what is an already stellar career.

“Just like Emma, Erin just keeps getting better,” Chouinard said. “She has a lot of weight on her shoulders with the responsibility of bringing the ball up the court, and her decision making got much better this year in transition.”

Even with Anderson and Barrette as a 1-2 punch, Menominee would not be the team it is without the contributions of Nolde, Hofer and Wellner, and they were recognized for their efforts with an honorable mention selection.

Nolde, usually a sharpshooter for the Maroons, had an off-year shooting as she struggled to 17-53 (32.1 percent) from long distance, but she became much better at attacking the basket to average 8.8 points per game.

Whenever Barrette needs a break from being the primary ball-handler, Hofer steps up and fills that position perfectly as she was second on the team in assists with 63 (3/game) and steals with 33 (2.09/game) — behind only Barrette in both categories. She was also second on the team in 3-point percentage (34.4, 22-64), free throw percentage (78.9, 15-19) and led Menominee with a 1.91 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Last but not least, Wellner was a beast inside for the Maroons, protecting the paint on defense to give Anderson a breather from time to time. Wellner was all over the court defensively, assisting in the Maroons giving up just 36.8 points per game.

“Josie, Jenna and Makenzie all play such vital roles for us,” Chouinard said. “Josie and Jenna benefit a lot from Emma getting double teamed and that leaves them open for shots on the perimeter, and then Makenzie has always been great defensively and she really started to turn it around on offense towards the end of the year.”

Menominee’s undefeated season led to the Maroons winning Division 1-2 Team of the Year for the first time since 2012, and they did it with a combination of suffocating defense and a nearly unstoppable offense. The Maroons held opponents to 30 points or less on seven occasions and allowed just eight points in a 75-8 thrashing of Marion.

The perfect regular season was spoiled by a once-in-a-lifetime heave from five feet behind the 3-point line in the opening round of districts, and if you think that won’t be used as motivation for next season when all five players return for their senior season — you’re sorely mistaken.

“I will never forget that feeling immediately after that shot went in,” Anderson said. “The first couple days after were really depressing, but instead of continuing to sulk about it we know that we have to get back to work as soon as we can so we make sure we never have that feeling again. We have high hopes for next season, and our sights are set on a state title.”