2018-04-05 / Sports

Dream Team: Three Lakers, two surprises

Peplinski nabs MVP honors in third and final appearance on all-county club
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

Jason Bradford’s halftime bit was meant to be sarcastic.

With his Glen Lake girls up 33-25 at halftime in a late-season clash at Frankfort, Bradford asked the Lakers if they were really going to make Savannah Peplinski score 40 points in order to escape with a win. Peplinski wasn’t one to pad the stats but, with her team struggling to score against a scrappy Northwest Conference opponent, the senior guard put the team on her back. The quick-handed slasher shot Glen Lake to a 72-57 win, pouring in a career-high 39 points while rounding out her double-double with 10 steals and six rebounds.

“We might have lost,” fellow senior Jen LaCross said. “It was nice to have someone that aggressive.”

Peplinski’s aggressiveness not only helped her secure the Leelanau County scoring title this winter but also, more importantly, propelled the team to a second straight Final Four appearance — but she didn’t do it alone.

In fact, for the third straight year, Peplinski is one of three gritty Glen Lake girls on the Leelanau Enterprise Girls Basketball Dream Team, which is assembled in a joint effort between county coaches, the Enterprise sports staff and a representative from the Northern Sports Officials Association.

Peplinski, the unanimous 2018 Dream Team MVP, is listed alongside LaCross and senior guard Allie Bonzelet on the all-county club.

“It’s huge for us,” said Peplinski, who landed an Associated Press Class C all-state honorable mention last week. “We were all on varsity as freshmen and had been playing together for a long time. Next year is going to be different, not playing basketball with these girls, but we worked really, really hard to get where we were. We left a mark and our hard work paid off.”

Peplinski poured in 15 points per game, scoring 20-plus on four occasions. Among them was a 21-point performance in a 74-43 win at North Bay in which she scored her 1,000th career point.

She, LaCross and Bonzelet may not remember all the stats in 25 years — especially since they regularly spent second halves together on the bench — but the memories will last a lifetime.

“It was like a roller-coaster ride with a lot of ups and downs,” LaCross said of the season. “We lost to Kingsley twice, but then we made it to Calvin (College) with Kingsley. There were lots of learning experiences.”

LaCross, a fiery forward with a knack for finding herself in foul trouble, led by example as a consistent producer of old-fashioned three-point plays and frustratingly effective defense. She and Bonzelet, who fits a similar description, were invaluable on the defensive end.

Their efforts didn’t always show up on the stat sheet but were regularly applauded by the Glen Lake faithful. That was particularly the case in a 66-35 regional win at Charlevoix in which Bonzelet limited Charlevoix star Elise Stuck to just five points.

“I did not think I held her to as many points as she had, but it was a team effort,” Bonzelet said. “I had Jen on the backside and she and Savannah hit shots on the offensive end.”

Plenty of peninsula players put up points this winter, but only five made the all-county cut.

Among them was a pair of underclassman surprises: North Bay sophomore guard Paige Kohler and Leland freshman forward Olivia Lowe.

Kohler led Leelanau in assists and steals, and only one player, Peplinski, placed higher in the scoring race.

“Was she the really fast one?” Peplinski asked. “She was so fast. She scored a lot of points against us. She’s going to be a big threat the next couple years. She sort of reminded me of how I played when I was younger, getting steals and going after loose balls.”

The respect is mutual.

“She can drive to the basket,” Kohler said. “She has a great shot. She’s fast and has really good court smarts. You have to try to think ahead, which is hard because she’s a senior and has been playing much longer than I have.”

Glen Lake (23-3, 14-2 Northwest) got the best of North Bay (11-11, 8-8) this season, outscoring the first-year co-op by a combined 71 points in two games, but the lopsided outcomes were common for Glen Lake in league play.

Leland (5-16, 3-13), for example, was outscored by a combined 105 points against the Lakers.

The Comets dealt with growing pains after top scorer Mollie Grishaw suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, but the young Comets frequently showcased flashes of potential.

Many came courtesy of Lowe, who averaged better than a double-double. In fact, the freshman led Leelanau County in both rebounds and blocks.

“Even though she is one of the top scorers in the county, her defense and effort are what continue to separate her,” Comets coach Ryan Knudsen said. “It’s not only all of the rebounds, steals and blocks but also all of the contested shots and deflections she creates with her hustle and energy that makes her one of the best all-around players in the county.”

Five other county players received Dream Team votes: junior center Kaitlyn Schaub of Glen Lake; senior center Joan Ogemaw and senior guard Sarah Reynolds of North Bay; and two senior guards from St. Mary (14-3), Hanna Grant and Lexi Schaub.

Recent winners

2017 Dream Team

* Kelly Bunek (Glen Lake)
 Hanna Grant (St. Mary)
 Jen LaCross (Glen Lake)
 Kira Metcalf (Leland)
 Joan Ogemaw (Northport)
 Savannah Peplinski (Glen Lake)

2016 Dream Team

 Kelly Bunek (Glen Lake)
 Sarah Carney (Glen Lake)
 Morgan Collins (Northport)
* Libby Munoz (Leland)
 Savannah Peplinski (Glen Lake)
 Waskwane Stonefish (Suttons Bay)
 Abbie Thon (St. Mary)

2015 Dream Team

 Delaney Kaufman (Suttons Bay)
 Jessica Lee (Glen Lake)
* Libby Munoz (Leland)
 Molly Plamondon (Homeschool)
 Sarah Plamondon (Homeschool)
 Maddie Trumbull (Leland)

* = Dream Team MVP

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