Women’s team falls in first round of playoffs

john.berry

On March 3, the NMU women’s basketball team finished the season in the GLIAC Playoffs for the first time in four years.

The ‘Cats’ season ended last week with a loss in the GLIAC quarterfinals to rival Michigan Tech by a score of 55-62. Tech went onto lose in the finals to the league champion Hillsdale Chargers 81-69.

Senior guard Holly Cole led the game in scoring,racking up a total of 18 points. The Wildcats remained in the lead at halftime with a score of 22-21. The offense during the second half fell short,falling at least seven points behind for the majority of the half.

This was the senior season for four NMU athletes including, Cole, forward Cassie Hegbloom, forward Cassi Rushford and guard Kelsey Deacon.

Deacon led the team in points with 16.3 per game, along with starting all 28 games. She was also named to the all-GLIAC second team over the weekend. Deacon tied her career high this season when she scored 29 points in a game against Ashland.

Freshman Erin Powers led the team in rebounding, averaging 5.1 rebounds per game. She also added 13 blocks and 16 steals.

From the start of the season, the main objective for the team was to play well and stay focused in order to get into the GLIAC conference tournament, head coach Troy Mattson said.

“Our goal was to make the conference tournament and we accomplished that. Our program continued to improve and I thought we were extremely focused all season,” Mattson said. “I was very pleased and excited with the way we finished our season.
We may have over-achieved. I feel that by the end of the year, we were playing as well, if not better, than most teams in our league.”

Along with that, Mattson said he is hopeful, but aware that he needs to prepare his team for the upcoming season.

“I’m optimistic. We have a good core of people coming back next year,” Mattson said. “We also are losing our leading scorer, and probably our biggest leader, (Deacon) and people will need to step to the forefront. Right now we’re concentrating on recruiting and we’ll start the cycle of workouts over again, let them (the team) know what they need to do for the summer, etcetera.”

The main thing that will help the team offset the losses of the seniors besides consistent training is recruiting, according to Mattson.

“Right now, it’s recruiting. We’re losing Kelsey (Deacon), so we have to replace those people who are capable of coming in and playing major minutes,” Mattson said.

The younger players have done a great job, and although they have some large shoes to fill, they have the ability to produce wins for next season, Mattson added.

“For those people that are returning,
to have the experience of this season is invaluable for the upcoming season to know that we can play at a high level,” Mattson said. “We need to come back and hopefully do as well as we did at the end of this season.”