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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
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I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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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.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Women’s basketball team shows glimpse of future

The first year of a new era for the NMU women’s basketball team ended with an early playoff exit, yet still gave hope for a promising future.

The Wildcats battled the No. 5-ranked and eventual GLIAC champion Ashland Eagles in the opening round of the GLIAC tournament on March 1 in Ashland,'sBasketball_ET

The Eagles jumped out to a 26-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the ’Cats never gave up and outscored Ashland 46-42 in the final three quarters. NMU cut the lead down to 12 points and forced Ashland to call a timeout with 2:24 remaining, but the early deficit was too big to overcome for the Wildcats as Ashland advanced with the 68-54 win.

NMU head coach Troy Mattson said the match showed his team’s potential.

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“I thought we played with a lot of toughness and a sense of urgency,” Mattson said. “We competed at the highest level for three quarters. We had a bad start to the first quarter, missing four or five layups and free throws and got ourselves in trouble, but I couldn’t be more proud of how we competed the rest of the night. We showed our will with four or five freshmen on the court most of the game and competed against one of the best teams in the country.”

The playoff game was the first for many Wildcats, as the 12-player roster was made up of eight freshmen throughout the season.

The freshmen core saw the emergence of offensive potential, as center Taylor Hodell along with guard Darby Youngstrom reached the honors in their first season.

Hodell also led NMU in rebounds, averaging 5.8 per game.

Freshman guard Emily Schramek said the year was a growing progress for NMU.

“At the start of the season, everyone could tell we were a young team and were struggling a bit,” Schramek said. “As the season went on, things were amazing, and we started playing much better. It gives us hope for the future­—we have a lot of experience and a lot of leadership forming, which will help in the future.”

The biggest offensive threat throughout the Wildcats’ season was junior guard Bre Gaspervich, who led her ’Cats with 12 points per game.

Gaspervich was the only top-nine player from the 2014-15 season to return for NMU this season, and Mattson said she can take a step to the next level next season.

“Gaspervich needs to work on consistency,” Mattson said. “We all know how great she is. She went through a stretch this season where she was the best player in our conference, then every team started throwing their best defender at her, and she struggled a bit. She needs to become a better point guard and understand which shots are good ones and take care of the basketball. Her talent is there, and she’s one of the most exciting players I’ve ever coached.”

Senior forwards Alyson Matkovitch and Kendall Martenet have ended their Wildcat careers, passing the leadership roles on to junior guards Gaspervich and Ashley Colla.

Mattson said his seniors stepped up big in a year of transition.

“I was very proud of both of them,” Mattson said. “They exuberated leadership when we didn’t have any coming into the year. They did things right on the court and in the classroom. They basically tried to be great examples for a young core group of girls.”

Mattson said with a few additions, NMU can compete even stronger throughout the GLIAC in coming years.

“We are excited about the potential for the upcoming years,” Mattson said. “We have one of the best recruiting classes I’ve had coming in, but we still have a long way to go. We have to get better every day and strive to be the best. We have a lot of great people in this program, and it’s just a matter of time.”

While Ashland is returning the majority of their championship roster, Michigan Tech and Saginaw Valley are graduating the majority of their leading contributors, leaving room for growth through the conference.

Schramek said a GLIAC season has prepared NMU for reaching the top-tier teams of the conference.

“We need to continue working on our game, but I think this year our lack of experience limited us,” Schramek said. “Having all of this year’s experience under our belt will be huge for us next year. Offensively, we all need to work on our games, and we’ll start to learn our roles.”

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