Brian Erickson exited a door of Cabre Gym and wiped his hand across his forehead in a “whew” gesture.
It was as eloquent a statement as anyone associated with the Northwest College men’s basketball team could make.
Moments earlier the Trappers concluded an instant-epic game, edging Sheridan College 101-100 in three overtimes.
It was the most dramatic and suspenseful Trapper victory in recent years. Energized fans roared for each blocked shot and each big shot hit. They were on their feet more often than in their seats.
“That was a big win,” said center Levi Londale, who scored 18 points. “We just played our hearts out.”
Northwest outlasted the Generals last Wednesday night after falling behind early and 52-45 at halftime.
“That was a crazy game,” Erickson said. “They hit a ton of big shots and I thought we made big shots in each overtime.”
Sheridan’s Ladan Ricketts was an entire subplot. In the first half, he torched Northwest for 21 points on six 3-pointers and three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer.
However, in the second half, Trappers Marshall McArthur early and Blake Hinze late, completely neutralized Ricketts with their defense. He scored zero points the rest of the game.
The tag-team defense eventually drove Ricketts to the bench.
A day later the Trappers defeated Little Big Horn College from Crow Agency, Mont., 86-73 with a somewhat sluggish effort requiring an early second-half spurt.
The victories raised Northwest’s record to 17-9.
The Sheridan game was even closer than the obvious ties ending each five-minute bonus period.
From 18:43 of the second half until 2:41 of the first overtime, the game was either tied or neither team led by more than a single shot. That’s more than 21 minutes.
Then, from 53 seconds remaining in the first overtime, through the 10 minutes of the next two overtimes the same situation prevailed.
“That’s crazy,” Trapper forward Carter Baxter said. “I felt like we had all of the momentum.”
No one made more key shots or more bigger plays for Northwest than sophomore forward Sukhjot Bains who played 50 minutes and scored 27 points.
“It was a really long game,” Bains said. “Every time we made a big play, they answered it.”
Northwest followed up with its win over Little Big Horn. Guard Jonathan Koud scored 24 points, Baxter perhaps played the best game of his career with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Londale added 12 points. McArthur, 11, and Bains, 10, contributed to the Trappers’ rebounding dominance.
Koud came out sizzling in the second half, making five 3-pointers in less than five minutes.
“That’s what we needed,” Koud said. “It was having the opportunity.”
(Lew Freedman can be reached at email@example.com.)