All-U.P. Girls: Gussert, Wright are the best of the best

By Jon Young

MARQUETTE – With over 4,172 combined points between them, and Division I futures ahead, it was no surprise that Lexi Gussert and Kelley Wright were named All-U.P. Class D and Class ABC Players of the Year, respectively, at the 39th Annual U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Girls Basketball Meeting on Wednesday.

Gussert of Forest Park was named Class D Player of the Year for the third straight season. The senior forward also was named to the Dream Team for a third time. Her efforts were recognized far beyond the Class D ranks as she was named Miss Basketball by the Detroit Free Press and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, making her only the second player from the U.P. to receive the honor.

Gussert left no doubts during her award winning career. The 6’1 forward scored a U.P record 2,630 career points, netted a state record for 3-point makes in a season (105) and finished as a top five highest scorer in the state, for both boys and girls.

Forest Park finished their first undefeated regular season in school history (20-0). During that run Gussert had seven triple doubles and hit a school record 10 3-pointers in a win over Iron Mountain. Her brother Drew held the previous school record.

Gussert scored nearly 30 points per game this season. She also snagged 12 rebounds, dished out 7.7 assists and nabbed 3.9 steals per contest. She is continuing her career at Michigan State in the fall.

“I don’t know that anybody can cover Lexi, and if you try to double up on her she will always find the open player,” Trojans head coach Jeff Syrjanen told the Daily Press after a 70-36 win over Bark River-Harris on Dec. 6, 2013. “I’m really fortunate as a coach to have that situation on this team.”

Wright, was named the Class ABC Player of the Year by a 16-7 vote over Marquette’s Hunter Viitala. Houghton’s Elisa Jurmu received one vote. The St. Ignace senior had another stellar season as she poured in 16 points per game while averaging eight rebounds and 6.5 steals per contest. She finishes her career with 1,542 points and two state championships. The Saints fell short of repeating this season in the Class C final as they fell 62-40 to Saginaw Nouvel. The Youngstown State recruit was also named Class C Player of the Year by the Associated Press.

The Saints finished 24-3 on the season and were also named Class C Team of the Year, in a unanimous decision by the UPPSA. Forest Park was also a unanimous decision for Class D Team of the Year. Houghton edged Marquette 16-8 for Class AB Team of the Year.

L’Anse’s Scott Lloyd was named Class ABC Coach of the Year, edging St. Ignace’s Dorene Ingalls. Forest Park’s Jeff Syrjanen was named Class D Coach of the Year, winning a 12-10 vote over Stephenson’s Mark Simon. The Eagles completed their best season in school history, finishing 18-5. Norm Ellenberger of Watersmeet and Dick Franti of Ontonagon each earned one vote. Franti earned his 500th career win this season.