The Trappers (12-5, 3-0 in conference) did away with two all-star teams at the First Bank of Wyoming Shootout in Powell over the weekend.
Northwest fended off a Wyoming-Montana All-Stars second-half comeback attempt to prevail 85-78 Friday evening, and then beat an overmatched Northwest All-Stars team 88-72 on Saturday afternoon.
The Trappers will be able to enjoy a three-week layoff while at the top of the Region IX North standings. The team is one of just two North squads to have played three conference games, and holds a half-game division lead over Western Wyoming (13-1, 2-0 in conference).
Neither game at the Shootout had division implications, but head coach Janis Beal said the wins served to end the first portion of the season on a positive note.
“It’s always fun to play at home [and] to get those two home wins before heading to break,” Beal said.
The Trappers led the Northwest All-Stars 44-39 at the half behind 14 points from Dana Bjorhus and 10 from Imari Simpson.
Northwest started the second period strong and extended the lead to 22 points (65-43) with 9:29 left.
But the Northwest All-Stars showed some fight and used a full-court press to cut it to 73-61 with 3:48 to play.
The All-Stars’s run stalled out after NWC sophomore Imari Simpson’s three-point play. Simpson was fouled on a made layup and hit her free throw to push the Trapper lead back up to 15 at 78-63.
The 16-point win over the Northwest All-Stars was led by Bjorhus’s 21 points and nine rebounds.
Bjorhus shot 50 percent from the floor, including 2-of-4 from deep, and hit a team-high nine free throws in 10 attempts.
Beal said Bjorhus was expected to score from day one but has really impressed with her prowess on the glass.
“She’s really done a great job on the boards,” Beal said. “I didn’t ever really get to see her go after rebounds [in high school] as she does now.”
Bjorhus has recorded at least five rebounds in eight of her 15 games this season.
Conversely, freshman Hatti Snyder surprised with her scoring. The six-foot forward posted 10 points and 10 boards Saturday for her second double-double of the weekend. Snyder chipped in on the defensive end with two blocks.
“I felt that Hatti played rally well this weekend,” Beal said. “It’s nice to see her getting some points on the board.”
Simpson finished the year strong with 17 points and nine rebounds (four offensive). Simpson was 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Leanne Winterholler added 11 points and four rebounds. All three of the sophomore’s field goals came from beyond the arc and she made both of her free throw attempts.
Megan Lund scored eight points (4-for-5 shooting) and grabbed two offensive rebounds in 13 minutes.
All but two of the Northwest All-Stars were former Trappers.
“I know the girls that came back with that All-Star team had a good time,” Beal said.
Friday’s game against the Wyoming-Montana All-Stars ended up a little closer than it should have.
The Trappers held a 15-point halftime lead but had to hold on for a seven-point win. The All-Stars’ Sami Walking Bear (a 2005 MSU-Billings alum) led all scorers with 26 points on 10-for-19 field goal shooting.
Northwest answered not with one outstanding individual performance but with four scorers in double digits and three others who scored at least eight.
Bjorhus scored 13, Winterholler had 10 and sophomore Andressa Augusto netted 12.
Snyder had another 10-point, 10-rebound game and was the only Trapper with more than six boards.
Freshman Mandee Christensen scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting in just 8:31 on the court.
Simpson scored eight and added three rebounds, and freshman Caitlin Clancy scored eight points in eight minutes.
Sophomore Estefania Vilela had six points and six rebounds in only 3:46 and freshman TaNeil Clayton had six points and four rebounds in just more than six minutes.
The Trappers have no games until Jan. 8, when they host Casper College to resume conference play.
Beal said her players deserve a rest after the first half of the season, and hopes they can come back and pick up right where they left off.
“Having a couple weeks off can be good and bad,” the coach said. “Basketball season is such a long season. The girls can hopefully get home and get some time away, and come back refreshed.”
The coaching staff gave each players some guidelines for working out during the break. Beal said weightlifting assignments were similar while each player’s shooting workouts differed depending on position.