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Molly Birch

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Four Northern seniors finish careers

The NMU men’s basketball team finished out its season Saturday, losing 68-60 to Lake Superior State University at the Berry Events Center.

The loss puts the team’s final record at 7-20, with a record of 6-12 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

Saturday’s game at the Berry also marked the celebration of NMU Senior Night. Four seniors from the men’s team – Ryan Reichel, Darren Jones, Jake Suardini and Mike Polfus – were honored in a pre-game ceremony.

When the ball was tipped to start the game, each of the four seniors remained on the floor – starting as a group for the first time all season. For Suardini, who averaged 35.8 minutes in all 27 games this season, the inclusion in the starting lineup was nothing new; but for Polfus, who averaged 6.6 minutes in 15 games this season, the extra minutes were appreciated.

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NMU head coach Dean Ellis not only put the four seniors in at the start of the game, he left them in for the majority of the game.

“I’m proud of our four seniors,” Ellis said after the game. “I let them know, ‘As long as you’re out there playing and we have a chance to win, you’re going to play.’ And we did.”

LSSU’s biggest lead of the game was only 10 points. With the game’s closeness, Ellis chose to leave his seniors in – to the tune of 40 minutes for Suardini, 39 for Reichel, 32 for Jones and 29 for Polfus. Every senior played the entire 20 minutes of the second half.

Polfus finished with six points, going 2 for 5 from beyond the arc. Reichel tacked on six points himself, and added four rebounds. Leading the team in rebounding were Jones and Suardini, each with six boards. Jones aided the Wildcat scoring with 10 points.

“It would have been a great ending had those four seniors who played the last 20 minutes found a way to win,” Ellis said. “And they were close enough. They had a chance. I guess the dream ending would have Mike Polfus making a three at the buzzer to win by one.”

Suardini would tie the game at 58 apiece in the game’s final minutes with a layup, but it was LSSU that had the dream ending. The Lakers finished off the ‘Cats with six straight points after Suardini’s layup, en route to the win. Suardini led the team in scoring with 21 points. LSSU’s Mark Morse was the game’s leading scorer with 23.

The LSSU win kept the Lakers in contention for the GLIAC playoffs, and their two-point win at Michigan Tech on Monday solidified their slot in the conference postseason. It is the first time LSSU has reached the GLIAC playoffs since 2002.

Despite not picking up the win, Ellis said he was impressed with the effort from his seniors.

“I’m just happy the four seniors got to do what they were able to do out there,” Ellis said. “You get in the game and you try as hard as you can, and you do what you can to try and win, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Ellis also gave a final nod to his senior leading scorer, Suardini.

“Jake carried us,” Ellis said. “Our record surely isn’t what anyone wants it to be. But Jake’s leadership, and his ability to keep the team up and positive all year was something special.”

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