Lady Wildcats to lean on young core this upcoming season

MARQUETTE — Last year, the Northern Michigan women’s basketball team fielded one of the youngest teams in the entire conference, but were still able to clinch a playoff birth. And they know the extra minutes they got were important in their development.

“It helped a lot. I feel like confidence–wise, too. The sophomores that are returning, we are all coming back in feeling a bit more comfortable out there on the court and are playing together and our chemistry is way better,” forward Darby Youngstrom said.

“We do have a lot of new freshman, but they are filling in well. It’s also just a learning process, getting everyone to play better and playing together better. So once we get into the flow of that, I’m excited to see what we’ll do,” said center Taylor Hodell.

With all of the young talent on the team, the leadership role will fall squarely on the shoulders of 2015 All–GLIAC second teamer Bre Gaspervich.

“Breanna is a senior. She’s our only senior. We don’t have any juniors. She’s a special player. I haven’t coached many like her. And I want to make sure that we give her to best opportunity to be as successful as she can be and as successful as we can be so that she leaves with an incredible feeling,” head coach Troy Mattson said.

The Wildcats are picked to finish fifth in the North Division, but they have their eyes on a bigger prize this upcoming season.

“We are actually talking about hopefully winning the North division this year, which is a really big goal with such talented teams as Grand Valley, Tech and Saginaw [Valley]. With the way we were playing last year, especially upsetting Tech and Saginaw, we’re really hopeful about this year and just coming out and being even better this year,” said guard Chloe Thompkins.

“The GLIAC is going to be a battle. It always is. But we’re definitely looking to compete and I know we all have the mindset that we can win it so that’s what we’re going for,” Youngstrom said.

“The last time we were picked five in the North, we won a GLIAC championship, so that tells you how much those mean. We’ve been picked to win the GLIAC and we finished third, so those don’t really matter. What matters is what goes on in our locker room and how we prepare every single day on the court. Right now, I really like what I see. I just want to get us back healthy. That’s our biggest thing,” Mattson said.

The Wildcats will open the season this weekend as they travel to Allendale to take part in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge.