2017-04-06 / Sports

Bunek, Lakers lead Dream Team after semifinal run

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

With six consistent contributors and an unselfish brand of basketball, the Glen Lake girls found a recipe for success that led to one of the most memorable seasons in program history.

Glen Lake had all the ingredients of a title contender this winter: balanced scoring, a blue-collar defense, a ball-hawking press, strong play in the post, strong play on the perimeter and, perhaps most importantly, a group of girls willing to work.

Together, those ingredients made Glen Lake one of the best-blended beverages in all of northern Michigan—and senior point guard Kelly Bunek was the straw that stirred the drink.

Well aware, Leelanau County coaches and the Enterprise sports staff voted unanimously to name Bunek the Girls Basketball Dream Team MVP.

“She pushed us,” said backcourt comrade and fellow Dream Team returner Savannah Peplinski. “She played her heart out until the last game.”

A quick and reliable floor general, Bunek provided a calming presence for Glen Lake (23-4, 16-0 Northwest) on both ends of the court. She not only led the Lady Lakers with 83 assists and 21 3-pointers but also tied Peplinski for third place in the Leelanau County scoring ranks with 10.1 points per contest. She also averaged 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals.

The reigning Softball Dream Team MVP and Lansing Community College softball commit said she fully expects to see Glen Lake back at the Breslin Center in 2018.

“I’ll be waiting in East Lansing,” Bunek said.

The team will likely need another big season from power forward Jen LaCross to make it there.

LaCross, a fierce presence in the paint, finished second in all-county voting after pacing the peninsula with 292 total points this winter.

The junior’s ability to get to the free-throw line— something she did 124 times—and shut down opposing post players was instrumental in the team’s lengthy postseason run.

“She’s never afraid,” Bunek said. “When she gets in her zone, she’ll take on anyone. She has confidence going up against the other team’s best post player and she isn’t scared to take a jump shot or drive. She’s going to be great next year.”

Bunek had similar things to say about Peplinski, a swift and physical slasher and a quick-handed pest defensively. Peplinski led the county in steals for the second straight season, swiping 109.

She averaged 10.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 4.0 steals this year, which was highlighted by a 23-point outing in the team’s 63-52 quarterfinal win over St. Ignace on March 14.

“She gets us going,” LaCross said of her classmate. “When we’re cold, she’ll be the one driving, forcing turnovers, causing fouls and firing us up.”

Glen Lake’s trio trailed just one county player in scoring: Northport junior center Joan Ogemaw.

Ogemaw, a two-time Volleyball Dream Team selection, led the Lady Wildcats (13-5, 3-1 Cherryland) to their first league title since 1976 while posting 11.7 points and 6.1 boards per game. She was the anchor to a zone defense that surrendered a county-low 27 points per game, and the offensive spark to Northport’s nine-game win streak early in the season. She started the streak by scoring 15 points in back-to-back-to-back games, giving the Wildcats a much-needed confidence boost after a six-win 2015-16 season.

Ogemaw said she enjoyed competing against another Dream Team honoree, Leland senior center Kira Metcalf, on three occasions this winter.

“She’s the athlete that pushed me the most this year,” Ogemaw said of Metcalf, who led all county players in rebounding, regardless of gender.

A blue-collar competitor and the heartbeat of the young Lady Comets (5-16, 5-11 Northwest), Metcalf cleaned the glass with authority this year.

She corralled 9.5 rebounds a night while averaging 7.0 points, which was good enough for ninth most in the peninsula scoring ranks.

“She will be impossible to replace,” Leland coach Ryan Knudsen said.

A St. Mary standout, junior guard Hanna Grant, rounds out the list of 2017 Dream Team honorees.

The fleet-footed and steady-handed ball handler put up 9.6 points per game, leading St. Mary (12-7, 2-2 Cherryland) to another winning season.

In terms of leadership, St. Mary coach Pete Finch said Grant made big strides this year.

“She went from being ‘80 percent shooter and 20 percent floor leader’ to 50-50,” Finch said of Grant, who became a cross-country standout last fall. “She made the team better.”

Coaches made 13 all-county nominations this year, year one of a new voting format: Coaches first submit nominees from their own team, then rank the nominations made by other coaches.

Interestingly, a fifth-place tie prevented an attempt to trim the list of honorees to five.

Seven players made the cut in 2015- 16: Bunek, Peplinski and Sarah Carney of Glen Lake; Libby Munoz of Leland, the MVP; Morgan Collins of Northport; Abbie Thon of St. Mary; and Waskwane Stonefish of Suttons Bay.

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