After dropping the championship game of the Camp Darryl Classic the week before in double overtime, Parallel 45 finished the deal to win the 11th-grade final of the Up North Challenge, 79-77 over the North Oakland Wolfpack.
11th-Grade All-Tournament Team
- MVP Charlie Howell 6-5 Jr Parallel 45 (Cadillac)
- Will Dee 6-0 Jr North Oakland Wolfpack (Rochester Adams)
- Luke Gelow 6-4 Jr Parallel 45 (Gaylord)
- Trenton Taratuta 6-4 Jr Parallel 45 (Hillman)
- Jaydon Weddle 6-0 Jr West Michigan Lakers (Grand River Prep)
- MJ Yeager 5-10 Jr The Program (Saginaw Nouvel)
While known for his throwback blue-collar athleticism and no prisoners approach — just as likely to get on the floor for a loose ball as to dunk — Up North Challenge MVP Charlie Howell is a consistent bucket as well. The 6-5 2024 from Parallel 45 via Cadillac scored 21 points in the championship game against North Oakland Wolfpack, 18 in the semifinals against The Program and 17 to start Sunday in a quarterfinal victory over Inspire U. He scored 19 with three 3s in a pool win against the West Michigan Lakers, and when the deep shot is falling like that truly one of the state’s best rising senior prospects. Howell is an active, engaged, talkative, physical defender who can slow down small guards like he did a couple weeks ago against Strictly Skills’ Noah Vanlaningham, or grind and play big like in the UNC final against the Wolfpack’s 6-8 Anthony Hutter. Has a knack for making clutch, difficult plays.
Trenton Taratuta‘s shot is one of the state’s prettiest — and deadliest. He hit four three-pointers in a pair of games, in pool play against the Wolfpack then in the first bracket game against Inspire U. Had a crucial late put-back and-one in the championship game. He can hit flurries of mid-range and turnaround jumpers as well, knowing angles and the glass; sees and passes like a point guard on the break; and wingspan, hands and anticipation on defense. The Hillman 2024 is the Vegas money to lead the state in scoring next winter. P45 has a similarly sized player at the other wing guard, Luke Gelow from Gaylord. He’s an athletic three-level scorer when cooking, and particularly dangerous when channeling his physical talents towards finishing at the rim, like when he lived at the line and scored 20 in the quarterfinals.
Any number of Wolfpack players could’ve made the all-tournament team, but Rochester Adams 2024 Will Dee, a Highlanders’ district hero, gets some nod for his consistency and shooting-playmaking combination. He knocked down five 3s en route to 24 points in a win over REAL, then hit four 3s in the semifinals. Smooth handle and pushes the ball, to go along with the confident shot that Dee counters with mid-range one-on-one and up-and-under finishes.
Who knew Grand River Academy had it going on like that? A pair of them were outstanding for the West Michigan Lakers-Bailey, active 6-3 junior LJ Cambric, and all-tournament selection Jaydon Weddle. Weddle is a 6-0 2024 combo guard who glides across the court and can hit the three-pointer or pull-up and scored 25 against the Wolfpack in the semifinals.
The North Oakland Wolfpack’s Peter Kardasis had a game of 10 three-pointers. But that wasn’t the tournament high, thanks to an explosion of 11 3s from The Program’s MJ Yeager accounting for all 33 of his points in a game against Camp Darryl. As good a shooter as he his, Yeager, a 5-10 Saginaw Nouvel 2024, also has some wiggle off the bounce and can open up the floor and create for others.