Trappers finish 1-2 headed into break

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Losses to Williston State, Dawson round out non-conference schedule

The Northwest College men’s basketball team closed out 2017 on a stumble, finishing 1-2 on the road before winter break.

Losses against Williston State and Dawson Community College — teams the Trappers beat earlier in the season — ended a three-game win streak and had coaches scratching their heads. A win Saturday against Stone Child College sent the Trappers (9-7) into the break on a positive note, but NWC head coach Brian Erickson wonders if his team’s focus may have been elsewhere.

“It’s like I told some of the guys: I think we started Christmas break a little too early,” Erickson said. “We had a great week of practice. I felt like we were clicking on both ends; we were playing as a team really, really well. Then we get out there, we don’t make rotations on defense, just not a lot of teamwork.”

Williston State 89, Trappers 75

The Trappers and Williston State (6-8) squared off Thursday, Dec. 7, for the third time this season. After splitting the first two games, the rubber match went to the Tetons on their home court behind a 21-point, six assist performance by O’Shane Taylor-Douglas off the bench. In all, four Tetons finished in double digits in the 89-75 win over NWC.

Shots from behind the arc also worked in the Tetons’ favor, as Williston’s bombers made it look easy.

“The last time we played them [Williston State], they made 15 3-pointers. This time they made 14,” Erickson said. “We didn’t do a good job of sticking on their shooters. We made adjustments, but they just kept knocking them down. They couldn’t miss.”

The Trappers got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 10-point lead in the opening minutes. The Tetons regrouped to lead 42-37 at the half.

“I just don’t feel like we did a good enough job defensively in that game,” Erickson said. “I don’t think our offense was bad, we had our struggles at times. We just didn’t have enough opportunities off of stops or steals. We didn’t take advantage of them.”

It was a back and forth contest in the second half, as the game featured four ties and nine lead changes.

“We had a lineup in the second half, it was all of the guys off our bench,” Erickson said. “They just brought energy. They were trapping, getting turnovers, steals going for layups. It was probably a 15-point game, and those guys brought it back to four points. After we subbed, the guys that came in didn’t have that same energy.”

Turnovers were also an issue for the Trappers, as Williston State scored 31 points off NWC’s 20 turnovers.

“That [turnovers] was something we struggled with all weekend,” Erickson said. “It got out of control a little bit more.”

The Trappers finished with three players in double digits, led by Laukan Taufa with 15 (plus five boards).

“I thought Lau played well,” Erickson said. “Each game that weekend, he got better and better. He’s doing more of what we need him to do, and I think it showed.”

Calvin Fugett and Blake Hinze followed with 10 points apiece, and Lagio Grantsaan ended the night with eight points and eight rebounds.

The Trappers finished with four 3-pointers, and out-rebounded Williston State 41-31. NWC finished at 50 percent on free throws, compared to 71 percent for the Tetons. NWC shot 27 percent on 3-point attempts and 42 percent from the field, compared to Williston State’s 48 percent on 3-point shots and 52 percent from the field.

“... We need someone who can step up and take over a game,” Erickson said. “I don’t think we’ve quite gotten that yet. Too many guys trying to do too many things sometimes. The biggest thing of playing good and playing bad is we gotta play better as a team.”

Dawson CC 91, Trappers 73

The first time NWC met up with Dawson Community College this season, the Trappers controlled the game and held off a late charge for an 81-67 victory at home.

Friday’s game at DCC’s house was a different story, as the 12-3 Buccaneers stepped up their game. Five Bucs scored in double digits, sending the Trappers back to Powell with a 91-73 loss.

“I thought our guys played hard, but Dawson had that edge to them,” Erickson said. “They pushed us around a bit and we didn’t respond to them. We kind of let them control and outwork us.”

The Bucs led 46-36 at the half, and didn’t look back, at one point holding a 20-point lead late in the game.

“On the defensive end, we just gave up too many points,” Erickson said. “We didn’t make the same rotations as we did the first time we played them.”

Umar Jalloh was the lone player in double digits for the Trappers, finishing with 18 points and leading the team with eight rebounds. Luc Lombardy, Calvin Fugett and Blake Hinze all scored nine points off the bench, while Reme Torbert chipped in eight.

“Luc [Lombardy] came in late, shot some threes well,” Erickson said. “I think Blake [Hinze] knocked down a couple. We got some of our guys in foul trouble early.”

The Trappers finished with five 3-pointers, and were out-rebounded 40-35. NWC finished 70 percent on free throws, compared to 64 percent for the Bucs. The Trappers shot 26 percent on 3-point attempts and 42 percent from the field, compared to Dawson’s 44 percent on 3-point shots and 48 percent from the field.

“I think the guys are frustrated a bit, just trying to figure out themselves,” Erickson said. “That’s what we’re going through, them trying to figure out who we are a little bit, sticking with it. If we can stay with who we are, I think we can be pretty good, but we pull away from it a little bit too often.”

Trappers 102, Stone Child College 69

The Trappers finished their three-game road swing with a dominating 102-69 win over Stone Child College. Despite the lopsided final score, Erickson said the team from Box Elder, Montana, came ready to play.

“We were down one at half [40-39],” Erickson said. “It was a little disappointing. I was thinking, ‘OK, we’ve lost two, it’s the last game before break, let’s get after it with some energy.’ But we just didn’t show up in the first half … Again, I think they’re looking forward to vacation a little bit more than playing basketball.”

The Trappers were a new team in the second half, however, outscoring Stone Child 63-29 in the final frame. Four Trappers finished in double digits, led by Taufa and Lombardy with 16 points apiece. Hinze was 3 for 4 from behind the arc to finish with 11 points, while Jace Johnson also sank three 3-pointers and netted 11.

“We had a couple of guys that got after it: Jace Johnson, Kyle Owens,” Erickson said. “Kyle got an opportunity and brought it on defense. They were playing hard, so they played the entire second half. They gave us the energy we needed, they really stepped up.”

Though he finished with only two points, NWC freshman Elexpe Johnson contributed in other areas, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing off seven assists to lead the Trappers in both categories.

Jalloh and Grantsaan chipped in eight points each.

The Trappers finished with 10 3-pointers and out-rebounded Stone Child 49-29. NWC finished 60 percent on free throws, compared to 52 percent for Stone Child. The Trappers shot 53 percent on 3-point attempts and 56 percent from the field, compared to Stone Child’s 33 percent on 3-point shots and 43 percent from the field.

The Trappers are home for the holidays and will open conference play Jan. 10 against Western Wyoming Community College. After 16 games, 11 on the road, in just over a month, “I think the break comes to us at a good time,” Erickson said.

He said it’s been a roller coaster — and that the team is “a little bit behind of where we should or need to be.”

Erickson and his staff plan to evaluate what they need to do better to get the team ready for conference play.

“We have to get that switch flipped,” he said. “It wasn’t a terrible first part of the year, but I think the guys are understanding now what it takes to be playing at the next level. It’s been a good experience for them, but now it’s at the point where every game matters after this.”

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