The Northwest College men’s basketball team may be finally finding its groove, winning both its games last week.
The Trappers (9-11, 2-2 in conference) started the week with an incredible 69-67 comeback win over Western Wyoming, overcoming a 12-point halftime deficit thanks to a last-second steal from Jason Feliz.
With around 10 seconds remaining and the score knotted at 67, Feliz stole an inbounds pass in the Western frontcourt and dribbled down court before getting hammered by the Mustangs.
“They were really trying to foul him hard so he didn’t get by,” coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman said with a laugh.
With about four seconds on the clock Feliz sunk both free throws, giving Northwest the lead and eventual win, holding tough on defense for Western’s last gasp.
“It was crazy,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “To win like that is something you don’t generally expect.”
After a rough shooting first half in which they trailed by 12 at halftime, the Trappers woke up and climbed back in the driver’s seat behind a strong performance from sophomore Reme Torbert.
“He played much better in the second half and helped us get back in it,” Abdur-Rahkman said.
Torbert led Northwest with 23 points and six rebounds in the contest while Lagio Grantsaan just missed a double-double, chipping in 10 rebounds and nine points.
Darius Webster was also a scorching hot 7-10 from the field for 14 points along with 5 rebounds.
“We’ve been really getting on him to step it up,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “It was great to see that. Hopefully it’ll be more of the norm for him than an anomaly.”
On Saturday the Trappers overcame 20 turnovers to take down Gillette College 82-74, thanks to double-double performances from Brian Howell and Grantsaan, who had 10 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
Though starting better than Wednesday – shooting 40 percent from the field in the first half – the Trappers still found themselves down 37-35 at halftime.
In the second half NWC came alive, making 61 percent of their shots, outscoring Gillette by 10 in the half.
“We were just executing beautifully,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “Making our cuts, getting rebounds, passing well.”
What most pleased the coach was that five players finished in double-figure scoring.
“I tell these guys when we share the wealth we all win,” Abdur-Rahkman said.
Torbert had another stellar night with 21 points and 7 rebounds, hitting five threes on 14-28 shooting.
“It was a lot of fun but I’m not getting too excited about it,” Abdur-Rahkman said of the successful week. “If we win five or seven games in a row, then maybe I’ll get excited.”
The Northwest men will return to action against league leader Casper College (18-2) Saturday, a foe ranked seventh in the nation.
Northwest women’s basketball did not fare as well as the men, losing to Western Wyoming and Gillette College last week.
On Saturday the Trappers jumped out to one of their best starts of the season, taking a 13 point lead into halftime against Gillette.
“That first half we shot 38 percent from the field,” coach Camden Levett said. “We haven’t played with a lot of leads. We’ve got to learn how to win and how to stay composed throughout a game.”
Unfortunately Saturday was a tale of two halves as the Trappers struggled against the Pronghorns 2-3 zone defense after the half. Levett said the zone defense has been giving the team fits lately.
Northwest could only manage 11 points in the second half despite getting plenty of open looks, shooting a brisk 13 percent from the field over the last two quarters.
Despite their miscues, the Lady Trappers still clung to a 42-41 lead entering the fourth quarter, but NWC was its own worst enemy, outscored 19-5 in the final frame on 8 percent shooting.
“We didn’t make shots in the second half, we came up short,” Levett said. “We kind of made mental mistakes on our own end of the court.”
Northwest turned the ball over 21 times in the 60-47 loss.
Juliana Ribeiro led the team with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Berkley Larsen’s 15-point game would not be enough for NWC to overcome Western Wyoming on Wednesday, falling 58-45.
After a close first quarter, the Lady Trappers fell behind 20-8 in the second.
“We just came out sluggish,” Levett said.
Despite a solid defensive performance Northwest did itself no favors on the offensive end, unable to make a single three-point shot the entire game.
Western pushed their lead to 15 by the end of the third, coasting to the win despite shooting a paltry 23 percent from the field.
“We got stops on defense and then we’d give up offensive rebounds,” Levett said. “They were crushing us on the offensive rebounds.”
The Mustangs hauled in 13 more rebounds Wednesday.
The Trappers, now 2-17, will continue searching for their first conference win when they play at Casper College on Jan. 26.
“This is a young group, a lot of freshmen and they’re getting a lot of playing time,” Levett said. “That’s one way to learn quick.”