The game had fate written all over it. Fate, as in doom.
Northwest College men’s basketball coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman had the same kind of gut feeling after his team lost to the Game Gear All-Stars 83-82 on Saturday afternoon at Cody’s Sweitzer Gym.
“The basketball gods did not look at us with favor,” he said.
The Trappers, who rebounded to best Rocky Mountain College’s JV 84-61 Monday night, kept getting burned by long-range shots by the visitors from Utah.
This was the seventh visit to Wyoming for a non-league game by Game Gear, according to Northwest athletic director Brian Erickson, 34, formerly the Trapper coach and a one-time college player.
In a quirk to the proceedings, Erickson, who has Utah roots, suited up for Game Gear this time.
He and Trapper guard Reme Torbert, who was recruited by Erickson, covered one another and engaged in friendly trash-talk too.
“Oh, a little bit both ways,” Erickson said.
After falling behind early due to Game Gear’s 3-point shooting, the Trappers bounced back in the second half by tightening their defense and taking away those long-distance opportunities.
Torbert gave Northwest the lead at 74-72 and Lagio Grantsaan expanded it to 80-74 with just over three minutes to play.
It was Erickson, of all people, whose difficult low-post spin move trimmed that lead with the next hoop.
Erickson said he did not feel he was abetting the enemy by competing for the opposition.
“I was out there just to compete,” he said.
Torbert was high man with 21 points, Grantsaan followed with 17, and Kyle Brown contributed 11.
The Trappers committed 16 turnovers overall and Rahkman said taking good care of the ball has been an ongoing problem, as well as the ability to hold off charging teams in the closing minutes.
“We never know how to close out games,” he said. “We don’t value possessions.”
Northwest players were glum about a win that got away since the Game Gear guys were older (some balding) and seemingly not in top shape compared to the Trappers.
“We were surprised,” Torbert said of Game Gear’s jump-shooting accuracy. “They had the players to do that.”
The game was part of a double-header with the Northwest women facing a team of Wyoming All-Stars in a rare appearance in Cody instead of the school’s Cabre Gym in Powell.
Such contests, a road home game, are only periodically scheduled. Tables were set up at the entrance to Sweitzer Gym providing information about the college and school president Stefani Hicswa wandered through the stands giving out free tickets for fans to win prizes.
Entering a holiday break – Northwest does not play again until a home game Jan. 5 against Williston State – the Trappers are 6-9.
The bounceback win over Rocky felt good prior to vacation.
Torbert led Northwest with 19 points, Grantsaan had 15, Calvin Fugett Jr. added 12, with 9 assists, and Brian Howell had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Abdur-Rahkman said he worried the players would not be focused being on the cusp of a break and coming off a disheartening loss, but was pleased to observe the opposite.
Calling it “a trap game,” he said, “the result was probably the most complete game we put together.”
Defense, unselfishness with the ball, committing just 11 turnovers and evenly distributed scoring all made good impressions on him.
“It felt like coming out of that game we accomplished something,” Abdur-Rahkman said.