Mackey Tip-off Classic back on at Northwestern
By: By Mike Granlund, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
The Donavon Mackey Tip-off Classic will be held Thursday and Friday in the new gymnasium at Northwestern High School. The basketball classic is being held after an absence of a couple of years and is held in honor of the memory of Donavon Mackey.
Mackey and his brother, Robert, were killed in a car/train accident in January of 1995. Both were star athletes for the Tigers, with 1993 graduate Donavon excelling in football, basketball and baseball, and 1994 grad Robert in football, wrestling and track.
I was impressed immediately with Donavon’s abilities,” said NHS boys basketball coach Dan Cowley. “He really loved the game of basketball and was the heart and soul of his high school teams. More importantly Donavon was a good kid and went out of his way to talk to you.”
Parents Kurt and Julie Mackey remain strong Tiger backers to this day.
Northwestern will also host the Robert Mackey Wrestling Invite on Saturday, Dec. 19 to honor Robert’s memory.
The Tigers, coming off a 25-1 Heart O’ North Conference championship season and a trip to the WIAA Division 2 State Basketball Tournament, will be the host team in the classic.
The Tigers figure to be tall, talented and experienced, despite losing all-state forward Steve Tecker, who will have season-ending hip surgery. Last year Tecker averaged 21 points per game.
Expected to help pick up the slack are 6-foot-8 center Donnie Hissa and 6-3 guard Lee Brown as returning regulars. Timmy Follis, 6-5, and 6-1 guard Johnnie Darwin are expected to fill the other roles in an all senior starting team. Three juniors who will see plenty of action are guard Kendall Abrahamzon, 6-5 forward; Tyler Forsythe, and 6-6 center Sam Williams.
Washburn, co-champion of the Indianhead Conference last year, will bring a talented squad to Maple. Alex Cook is a scoring machine for the Castle Guards and 6-5 Nick Giesen provides coach Duane Gasparini some height inside. The Washburn vs. Northwestern game is believed to be the first regular season game between the teams since the 1999 game that ended up in a 5-4 Northwestern victory.
South Shore and coach Jack Nelson put on a late season surge that ended up with the Cardinals advancing to the Spooner sectional tournament last season. Nelson brings back six players with starting experience, led by outstanding guard Derek “Beavis” Jardine, who scored 15 point per game last season.
With a high school enrollment of only 51, and only one player taller than 6-0 tall, the Cardinals may prove to be a fan favorite in the classic.
Ashland, which now competes in the Lake Superior Conference, finished 12-9 last year. The Oredockers have a returning starter in point guard Reggie Habas and a number of other players with some experience for coach Joe Brennan.
Thursday’s varsity games will have South Shore vs. Ashland at 5:45 p.m. and Northwestern vs. Washburn at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, South Shore and Washburn will play an Indianhead matchup at 5:45 p.m. and Northwestern and Ashland will renew their rivalry at 7:30 p.m.
** Most high school players dream of playing at Madison. Northwestern Tiger alum Aaron Corry completed a unique feat by playing three straight games there. The first was in the WIAA Division 2 state tournament in March at the Kohl Center as the Tigers fell to Wisconsin Lutheran, 61-58. Next, Corry was part of the North squad for the WBCA All-Star game in June at the Field House on the UW campus, and the third time was as a member of the UW-Superior Yellowjackets in an exhibition against coach Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers on Nov. 11 at the Kohl Center.
** The high school basketball landscape had a major change a couple of weeks ago when Eau Claire Memorial sophomore Wally Ellenson and his 6-5 freshman brother transferred to Rice Lake. The sophomore Ellenson is ranked as the third best player in the state in the Class of 2012. This immediately makes Rice Lake a factor in both the Big Rivers Conference race and the WIAA Division 2 tournament bracket.
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