“We definitely looked like a team that hadn’t played ball together for two or three weeks,” Erickson said of his team’s sluggish start, which saw the Trappers lead by just one point at the half, 44-43. “Give a lot of credit to Little Big Horn, because they’ve improved a lot over the years. They compete and play hard and they have some good players. We just looked like a team that wasn’t in sync with itself, though. You could tell we hadn’t played together for a while.”
Erickson noted that struggle led to a game where his team didn’t appear to flow as smooth as it had in contests prior to the holiday recess.
“You don’t forget the defense and the offense, but it doesn’t click as well when you haven’t done it in a while,” said Erickson. “We had to relearn how we all play the game and that made us look sluggish out there. On defense, it meant we didn’t always make the rotations we needed to or we were giving up second shots we shouldn’t have.”
After a closer first half than Trapper fans have come to expect against Little Big Horn, the visiting Rams continued to linger nearby during the early stages of the second half. It wasn’t until the Trappers uncorked a 23-4 run over the last 10 minutes of the contest that victory was assured.
“Something finally clicked with the group we had on the floor,” said Erickson. “I probably played those five guys for eight of the final 10 minutes because we were finally executing and opening things up. Everyone has to work together. It has to be like a well-oiled machine.”
The Trappers out-rebounded Little Big Horn by a 25-9 margin down the stretch. The team also locked down on an LBHC crew that had sizzled the nets for 65 percent shooting in the first half.
Junior Coleman led a balanced scoring line for the Trapper men with 16 points. Guilherme Carabagiale added 14 points, Jonothan Newsome had 13 points, Jeffrey Solarin finished with 12 points and Gary Gordon and Gabe Solarin each ended their nights with 10 points to provide the Trappers with six players in double figures.
“It was a pretty balanced game offensively,” said Erickson. “Quite a few guys contributed. When you get six in double figures, you know you’re sharing the ball well and doing some good things on offense.”
The Trappers also finished the night with a solid shooting percentage overall. Northwest knocked down 55.4 percent of its shots for the game, but connected for just 3 of 13 attempts from behind the arc.
The Trappers travel to Casper this Saturday to take on the Thunderbirds.
“We were the team in Region IX that had the Wednesday bye this week,” Erickson said, referring to the team’s lack of a midweek game. “It couldn’t have come at a better time. We have a game under our belt and now we have a week to practice and do things a little better to get back on track with one another.”
Erickson notes that will be important, because Casper will likely come with plenty of pressure on the defensive end of the floor come Saturday.
“When you play at their place, they always seem to climb into you more on defense,” Erickson said. “They’re always a high-pressure defensive team. They’ve only lost like three games all year and they’ve got a couple kids that might be All-American by season’s end. We have to take care of the ball against their pressure and try to keep them off the glass on the offensive end.”
The Trappers’ next home action comes Jan. 16 when Northwest hosts Miles Community College.