3 Portagers earn All-Northwest Conference honors

Onekama’s Hanna Hughes (left) Colleen McCarthy (center) and Ella Acton (right) were named to the All-Northwest Conference girls basketball list for their performances this season. (News Advocate file photos)

ONEKAMA — Onekama girls basketball had a slow start to the season, starting out 1-9 in Northwest Conference games before winning its final four league contests to finish the season 5-9 in NWC play. The Portagers even recorded wins over Frankfort and Buckley — two teams that went on to win their respective districts.

Three Portagers earned postseason recognition, with Colleen McCarthy taking second-team All-Northwest Conference honors while Ella Acton and Hanna Hughes received honorable mention.

Onekama head coach Tracy Bennett was happy to see the players earn recognition, but she is even happier that she will have the opportunity to coach the trio of juniors again next season.

“The most exciting part is that these three that were recognized in the very tough Northwest Conference will all be back next year,” Bennett said. “I’m super excited for that.”

McCarthy ran the point for Onekama, and the athleticism that helped her earn all-state honorable mention in volleyball this year certainly translated well to the basketball court.

“She can play and defend every position on the court,” Bennett said. “She’s very hard working. Very dedicated — whether it be in practice or in a game. She runs the ball for our team and she can be anywhere, from being our leading scorer one game and the next game our leading rebounder.

“Her ball-handling skills, her jumping ability and her court awareness set her apart from lots of other players,” Bennett continued. “Her getting second-team (all-conference) in this competitive league is very well-deserved.”

Opposing teams also focused on slowing McCarthy down, which is a testament to the respect she commanded in the NWC.

“In the competitive Northwest Conference, she was a standout as one of the top players,” Bennett said. “And that was evident from her being double-teamed or denied during most games.

“She definitely is a dynamic player,” Bennett continued. “She’s got great basketball IQ. She is a threat not just offensively, but defensively as well.”

Though many of Acton’s contributions did not show up in the stat sheet, they certainly made an impact on the court.

“Ella’s stats don’t actually show everything gives to the game of basketball,” Bennett said. “She is our team’s defensive machine. She is so aggressive defensively — she has her hand in many jump balls and defensive turnovers multiple times every game.

“… She is a game-changer when she’s out there,” Bennett continued. “They say defense can win games and she’s been in a role where she’s had to step in and guard some of the top players in the Northwest Conference, and she does a really good job.”

Acton has to be accounted for on the offensive end, as well.

“Not only does she run the court as a defensive threat, she’s one of our main guards and she can also hit shots,” Bennett said. “She is taking it to the hole when she makes a steal and getting to the line quite a bit.”

Hughes was able to put her stamp on games from all over the floor. The guard was just as comfortable stepping out and scoring from deep as she was getting in the paint and pulling down a rebound.

“Hanna plays lots of roles out on the floor,” Bennett said. “She’s definitely one of our team’s best 3-point shooters, and don’t let her size deceive you, because she can also pull down those rebounds. I think she averaged 3.9 rebounds per game and she is one of the smallest out there on the court every time.

“That just goes to prove that she is hard-working and gets right in there and she never gives up,” Bennett continued. “That’s what shines about her when she’s out on the floor.”


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