“It’s always a big game when we get together with Sheridan,” said Trapper head coach Brian Erickson. “They’re kind of our rival. There’s a respect there, but also a dislike between both teams, so any time Sheridan comes in there’s just a little bit more about the game.”
For much of the first half, it didn’t appear the latest installment of the Northwest-Sheridan clash would match the intensity of some of the schools’ prior encounters. Northwest quickly established a lead and was up 42-25 with less than a minute to go before the half.
“We were executing and playing well defensively,” said Erickson, whose team held Sheridan to less than 36 percent shooting in the first half, including a frigid 1-for-9 display behind the 3-point arc.
The Generals, who were one of several unranked teams to receive votes in last week’s NJCAA rankings, knocked down the final five points of the half, however, to trim Northwest’s lead to a dozen points at intermission. The Trappers were able to maintain that margin throughout much of the second half until a late-game brush with disaster.
“They switched to a zone defense in the final five minutes or so against us and we just didn’t handle it well,” said Erickson. “Our last seven offensive possessions, we had five turnovers, one ill-advised shot and one play where we got fouled. We didn’t do what we needed to do in order to maintain our lead. Our execution was not where it needed to be.”
The Trappers were dangerously close to watching the game slip from their grasp as Sheridan knocked down a 3-point bucket in the final minute of regulation to grab a 72-71 lead. The Trappers quickly turned the ball over, but the Generals weren’t able to convert a shot, giving Northwest 10 seconds to get down the floor and score.
“We got a good outlet to Junior Coleman and he and Jeffrey Solarin had a two-on-one situation going down the court,” said Erickson. “We missed the shot, but Gui (Guiherme Carabagiale) was trailing and got an offensive rebound and was fouled taking the follow-up shot with three seconds remaining.”
Carabagiale’s first shot hit off the back of the iron and bounded away. The Trapper sophomore was able to hit the second of his two foul shots, forcing overtime once Sheridan’s half-court attempt at the buzzer missed the mark.
In the first overtime, Sheridan scored the first five points before the Trappers were able to lock down defensively and prevent the Generals from adding to their score and forcing a second overtime period.
Northwest scored the first eight points of that second extra stanza. From there, the Trappers simply converted free throws down the stretch to grab a huge victory for the program.
Jeffrey Solarin continued his recent spate of hot play for the Trappers, finishing with 21 points and 17 rebounds. It was one of two double-doubles registered by Northwest. Carabagiale added 12 points and 10 rebounds in support of the Trappers.
“We had some tired kids, and Gui came out and played well,” said Erickson. “Kilby Rech also did a lot of the little things in addition to scoring that helped us off the bench.”
Rech was one of three other Trappers to finish in double figures scoring. Coleman added 16 points. Gabe Solarin finished with 14 points and Rech finished his night with 12 points. Northwest held a 57-37 advantage on the rebounding glass in the game.
The Trappers were also on the road last Wednesday, dropping a 63-56 decision at Central Wyoming. Coleman and Jonothan Newsom each finished with 15 points in that game.
Northwest College is now 16-9 overall and 5-6 in Region IX North play. The Trappers currently sit in fifth place in the nine-school North division. The Trappers return to action on Wednesday at Little Big Horn (5-18, 2-8)
Sheridan 91 (2ot)
J. Solarin 21, Beehler 3, Uzonwanne 8, Coleman 16, Newsom 7, Carabagiale 12, G. Solarin 14, de Andrade 2, Rech 12.
C. Wyoming 63, Northwest 56
Carabagiale 6, J. Solarin 6, Coleman 15, Newsom 15, de Andrade 8, Beehler 2, Uzonwanne 4.