Losses To WWCC, Gillette Drop Northwest to 2-17 Record
It was another week of frustration for the Northwest College women’s basketball team, as close losses to Western Wyoming and Gillette have the Lady Trappers mired in an 0-4 hole in the Region IX North.
After a sloppy performance in a Jan. 16 loss to the Lady Mustangs in Rock Springs, Northwest appeared on the verge of its first conference win against Gillette on Saturday at Cabre Gym. But after taking a 36-23 lead into the locker room at the break, the Lady Trappers managed just 11 points in the second half to Gillette’s 37, losing 60-47.
“I definitely think we were pressing a little bit these two games,” said NWC head coach Camden Levett. “We all want to get that first win in conference. Once that happens, I think it will be a snowball effect; once we get over that hump, good things are going to happen.”
The Lady Trappers hosted Central Wyoming Wednesday, and travel to Casper Saturday to take on the Lady Thunderbirds.
“It’s been a fantastic group to coach,” Levett said of his team. “We’ve had our frustrations, but no one has hung their heads too low. They’re staying positive and upbeat, and any game can get us going. I really feel that way.”
WWCC 58, LADY TRAPPERS 45
Wednesday’s contest against Western Wyoming (4-14, 1-3) was not without its share of distractions for the Lady Trappers (2-17, 0-4), as two of their top players have strong ties to Rock Springs. Freshman Selena Cudney is a Rock Springs native and was a Class 4A All-State selection last season for the Rock Springs Lady Tigers. Teammate Juliana Ribeiro, a native of Brazil, was on the Lady Mustangs roster last year, transferring to NWC in the offseason.
“We had a lot of family there, and we weren’t ready to go,” Levett said. “We didn’t play our game at all. We put ourselves in a hole we never got out of.”
Northwest kept it close in the first quarter, with the teams knotted at 9-9. But Western pulled away in the second frame, outscoring the Lady Trappers 20-8 to take a 29-17 lead into the half.
“That’s on us. We were really sloppy,” Levett said. “To be in the game at the end of one was kind of a blessing — we were giving up offensive rebounds, and they had a lot more opportunity to shoot the ball than we did. It was just a very disappointing game.”
Northwest kept it close in the final two quarters, but couldn’t make up ground lost in the first half. The team shot a dismal 26 percent from the floor, including an uncharacteristic 0-16 from behind the arc. Asked about Western’s defense, Levett said it was nothing the Lady Trappers hadn’t seen before, they just couldn’t get shots to fall.
“We played a tough non-conference schedule, so we’ve seen it all,” Levett said. “We’ve seen full-court press for 40 minutes, we’ve seen 40 minutes of zone. There were really no surprises, we just have to come out and execute.”
Freshman Berkley Larsen was the lone Lady Trapper to score in double digits, netting 15 points.
“Berkley [Larsen]’s been great for us, she really has,” Levett said. “She’s undersized in the post in every game we’ve played, but in conference, she’s stepped it up. She’s at 12 points a game right now, and our guards know that good things happen when they get her the ball.”
Ribeiro and Cudney finished with eight points each, followed by six points from Tayla Sayer and four from Melissa Martinez.
Sayer and Ribeiro led Northwest with six rebounds apiece, while Kaylee Brown led the team in assists with three. Western won the battle of the boards 54- 41.
“I told the girls after the game to just limit the distractions,” Levett said. “We’ve had a great crowd everywhere we’ve played. That shouldn’t be nerve-wracking for us. We just need to get the focus back on us and do what we do well. We can’t take any steps back.”
GILLETTE 60, LADY TRAPPERS 47
At home against Gillette (11-8, 4-0) Saturday, the Lady Trappers looked like a different team, jumping out to a 19-10 first quarter lead on the division-leading Lady Pronghorns.
They carried that momentum into the second quarter with 17 more points, building a 13-point lead at the break, 36-23. Ribeiro, Larsen and Martinez scored eight points apiece in the first half.
“We came out firing; we did some things defensively that led to easy buckets for us,” Levett said. “We pushed the ball in transition, and we started knocking down shots in that first half. We took the 13-point lead into the half, and everyone was pumped up and feeling good.”
And then the wheels came off. The Lady Pronghorns cut NWC’s 13-point lead to just a point by the end of the third quarter, 42-41. Gillette then took the lead a minute into the fourth quarter and never relinquished it, going on to win 60-47.
“We came out flat in the second half and only scored 11 points,” Levett said. “They [Gillette] were running the same zone defense, it wasn’t anything that we weren’t ready for. But it was a good learning process for us. I wish it hadn’t happened this late in the season, but we have to learn to play with that lead, stay aggressive.”
Martinez had a solid outing off the bench, finishing with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I think Melissa Martinez has really stepped up for us,” Levett said. “She’s playing significant minutes as a backup one or two guard and playing really well for us.”
Ribeiro netted 10 points to go along with six rebounds and Mikkel McIntosh chipped in six points and four rebounds.
“I think we pressed too much — we shot 13 percent in the second half,” Levett said. “You’re not going to beat a Gillette College, a very good team, shooting 13 percent in the half.”