Split Gives Trappers 6-6 Record In Conference Heading Into Final Week
After a pair of exciting wins that had Trapper fans on the edge of their seats, the Northwest College men’s basketball team fell back to earth a bit last week, dropping a game to Miles Community College on the road before bouncing back with a win at home against Western Wyoming.
“We’ve been like that all year, either passive or aggressive,” said NWC head coach Brian Erickson. “When we’re aggressive, going to the rim, we’re tough to beat. Wednesday night, against Miles, we were passive.”
The split put the Trappers’ conference record at 6-6, with two games left in the regular season. NWC hosted Central Wyoming Wednesday in its final home game, then travels to Sheridan Saturday.
MCC 71, NWC 62
Injury-riddled Miles Community College only suited six players, but six proved to be enough as the Pioneers upset the Trappers 71-62 in Miles City Wednesday, Feb. 15.
“We just got out-worked,” Erickson said. “It was disappointing. Miles was playing so hard, they only had six guys, and their best player was out hurt.”
The Trappers (18-10, 6-6) finished the game with four players in double figures, but struggled distributing the ball, recording only seven assists on the night, compared to 11 for the Pioneers (10-17, 3-9).
Sukjhot Bains led the way for NWC, netting 12 points. Jonathan Koud and Marshall McArthur finished with 11 points apiece, with Koud grabbing a team-high three rebounds and dishing off a pair of assists.
Blake Hinze added 10 points, including a 2-for-3 night behind the arc.
The Pioneers had three players finish in double figures, led by Perion Little with 22 and Oumar Diaby with 19. Adoum Mbang recorded a double-double, netting 11 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
The Trappers finished with five 3-pointers, and were out-rebounded by MCC 43-33. NWC shot 69 percent on free throws, 20 percent on 3-point shots and 40 percent from the field, compared to MCC’s 69 percent on free throws, 50 percent on 3-point shots and 43 percent from the field.
“I think they just played harder than us,” Erickson said. “You have to hand it to Miles for playing through injuries.”
NWC 81, WWCC 76
Looking to rebound after a loss against a decimated MCC team, the Trappers welcomed Western Wyoming, fresh off a win against nationally-ranked Gillette College, to the Cabre Gym on Saturday.
The game was everything one might expect from a pair of evenly-matched programs, with 21 lead changes and 11 ties. NWC finally outlasted the Mustangs, 81-76.
“We played a lot harder this game, really played together,” Coach Erickson said. “We’d pass up great shots for an even better shot, and it’s hard to pass up great shots. The ball just moved; we had 17 assists. It was good team effort, there wasn’t one guy trying to do too much. It was what we’ve been pushing for all year.”
It was a back-and-forth contest from the tip-off, with neither team able to make much of a run. It was the Levi Londole Show for the Trappers early, as the sophomore from Montreal scored five of the team’s first eight points, and contributed an intimidating block at the defensive end of the floor.
Sukjhot Bains and Jonathan Koud were also scoring with regularity, though it seemed with every big shot the Trappers made, the Mustangs were quick with an answer.
“We kept scoring, but they kept answering back,” Bains said. “It was pretty competitive. But we knew we had to keep scoring and this was a must-win game, because they had just beat Gillette, so this game would improve our standing.
With 10 minutes to go in the first half and the score knotted at 19, Blake Hinze and Marshall McArthur began knocking down shots as well for NWC, mixing in 3-pointers with aggressive play underneath the basket.
“Those five guys, Jo-Jo, Suk, Levi, Marshall and Blake, they all played over 25 minutes in the game,” Erickson said. “You couldn’t take them off the floor because they were playing so well together.”
Freshman Luc Lombardy, whose minutes have been limited due to injury, had an impact off the bench, hitting a 3-pointer and a lay-up and playing solid defense in the first half. He would finish the game with eight points.
“Luc had some good minutes getting back in there,” Erickson said.
With a little over three minutes to play in the half, the Trappers pushed their lead to nine, 33-24. But Western Wyoming retook a 36-34 lead before Skyler Zabriskie tied the game at the buzzer, 36-36.
“I thought our defense was pretty good, we rotated well,” Bains said of the first half. “We got the steals when we needed them and pushed the ball well in transition.”
Bains stole the show early in the second half, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, feeding Londole underneath for a monster dunk, then knocking down another 3-pointer to give the Trappers a 53-46 lead.
Yet the Mustangs would not go away.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Western Wyoming reclaimed the lead once again, but Lombardy answered with his second 3-pointer to put the Trappers up 59-57. The lead would continue to swap hands, and after the Mustangs hit back-to-back shots to take a 64- 60 advantage, Erickson called a timeout.
“They went on a little run there, and I just told the guys to settle in,” Erickson said. “We kind of panic sometimes when they go on a run, so we’ve been working on that mental toughness, and I thought they did a great job coming out of that timeout.”
After the timeout it was Koud’s turn to take center stage. He scored eight of the next 10 points on a 10-2 run for the Trappers, with a coas-tto- coast layup by McArthur thrown in for good measure. The run gave NWC a 74-66 lead they would not relinquish.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” Koud said after the game. “We finished the game with like 17 assists; I think that’s the highest we’ve had all season. We did a good job pushing the ball. We played our game. When we played Miles, we played their game and that’s why we lost. We came back strong tonight.”
The Trappers finished with four players in double figures, led by Bains with 19 points, including five 3-pointers (four in the second half). Londole was next with 17 points, followed by Koud with 14 to go along with a game-high seven assists. Hinze netted 11 points, with McArthur rounding out the top five with nine.
“This is how it should be, we’re really good when our scoring is distributed around like that,” Erickson said. “I was really proud of the team and how hard they worked.”
Western Wyoming also had four players in double figures, led by Josh Fearing with 16 points and teammate Callum Lawson, who recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
The Trappers finished with nine 3-pointers, and rebounds were even with each team grabbing 27. NWC shot 63 percent on free throws, 45 percent on 3-point shots and 55 percent from the field, compared to Western Wyoming’s 62 percent on free throws, 39 percent on 3-point shots and 50 percent from the field.
“By this point on the season, we know who we are,” Erickson said. “The best word to use is consistency. We need to be who are every day, every game.”