The Northwest College women’s basketball team advanced to the semi-final game of the Region IX Tournament before coming up short.
The Lady Trappers beat Trinidad State Junior College 79-58, then fell in the semifinals against the defending Region IX champions, No. 22-ranked Western Nebraska Community College, 67-62.
Lady Trappers 79, Trinidad State Junior College 58
At the Region IX Tournament in Casper, the Lady Trappers first tipped off against Trinidad State Junior College on Thursday.
“We came out kind of slow,” said NWC head coach Janis Beal.
Trinidad went on a 7-0 run to start the game, as the Lady Trappers went 2:25 before putting any points on the scoreboard.
“Trinidad came out on fire — they were aggressive — but I thought we did a great job to take the lead at half,” Beal said.
After one quarter, the Lady Trojans led 20-16, but by the half, the Lady Trappers led 34-32.
After giving up “way too many” rebounds in the first two quarters, “we definitely came out in the second half and did a lot better job with that and just our defensive pressure,” Beal said.
In the third quarter, the Lady Trappers outscored the Lady Trojans 23-16 to take a 57-48 lead going into the final quarter of play.
Northwest College went on to dominate the game, winning 79-58.
“It’s similar to our play-in game against Western Wyoming where it was kind of an ugly first half and then all of a sudden we exploded in the second half,” Beal said.
Three players scored in double digits for the Lady Trappers, led by Kira Marlow with 17. Julynne da Silva Sa followed with 14 and Charri McArthur finished with 10.
The Lady Trappers shot 49.2 percent from the field, 46.2 percent from the arc and 65 percent from the free throw line, while the Lady Trojans shot 35.2 percent from the field, 29.4 percent from the 3-point line and 75 percent from the charity stripe.
da Silva Sa had all three of the team’s blocked shots.
Marlow led on the boards with seven. Dani McManamen and Alexi Payne grabbed five rebounds apiece.
For steals, the Lady Trappers were led by McManamen with two and Aumua-Tuisavurea, Marlow, Silva, Kaylee Brown and McArthur each had one.
Both teams finished with 16 turnovers while NWC had 17 assists.
Beal said that ratio was key, with another being that “we took care of the ball.”
Marlow led with six assists, while Tala Aumua-Tuisavura had five.
Western Nebraska 67, Lady Trappers 62
The win over Trinidad put the Lady Trappers in the semi-final game against Western Nebraska Community College on Friday.
The Lady Cougars put the first points on the board and with 8:45 remaining in the quarter the Lady Trappers tied the game at 2.
But from there, three and half minutes would pass before the Lady Trappers scored again. Western Nebraska led 18-12 after the first quarter and 30-23 at the half.
To start the third quarter, the Lady Trappers cut the lead to 30-28 while holding the Lady Cougars scoreless for almost four minutes. For the rest of the third period, the Lady Trappers trailed by no more than three points, tying the game three times in the last two minutes.
At the end of three quarters, the score was knotted at 47-47.
In the final quarter, Western got a 3-point play to go up 50-47, with 9:29 remaining. Thirteen seconds later, McArthur hit a three to again tie the game at 50.
Western led 55-50 with 6:40 left in regulation before Julynne da Silva Sa made two free throws to make it 55-52.
With 4:58 on the clock, Marlow hit a layup and then grabbed the rebound on Western’s next possession. Marlow passed the ball up to Payne who made a fast break layup to give Northwest a 56-55 advantage.
But Western immediately answered with a 3-pointer to reclaim the lead, 58-56.
With 25.5 seconds remaining, NWC still trailed by two, 64-62, but three made free throws and a steal with roughly seven seconds left sealed the 67-62 win for the Lady Cougars.
“We got down a little bit early and then just kind of chipped away at it,” Beal said. She added that, in the first half, there were a few too many turnovers and some players in foul trouble.
“I think Tayla [Sayer] stepped up big this weekend,” Beal said. “She hasn’t played a ton of point throughout the year, but when Tala [Aumua-Tuisavura] did get in some foul trouble I thought Tayla was a good spark for us and did a good job.”
Beal also said the Lady Trappers didn’t do a good job defensively against Western Nebraska’s Karli Seay, who finished with 34 of the Lady Cougars’ 67 points.
“[I] think for us, in the North, we don’t have a player like that and so I think it’s a concept of, if you don’t play against that type of athleticism every day it kind of catches you off guard and I think that happened with us today,” Beal said. “She’s just so good and quick.”
Beal said little things hurt the Lady Trappers — such as roughly 10 missed layups in the first half and missed free throws.
“That’s a different story going into the second half if we make those,” Beal said.
The Lady Trappers shot 61.1 percent from the free throw line, 43.8 percent from the arc and 34.9 percent from the field. From the charity stripe, the Lady Trappers have been averaging 70.2 percent.
The Lady Cougars shot 69.6 percent from the charity stripe, 26.3 percent from the 3-point line and 32.4 percent from the field.
“They’re a little more physical and we kind of shied away from that and didn’t finish,” Beal said. “And I think when you look at it, missed layups and free throws really hurt us tonight. In a close game against a nationally ranked opponent — those little things matter that much more.”
Western Nebraska was ranked 22nd in the nation going into the tournament and was the defending Region IX champ. This year, they fell to Casper College in the finals, 85-75.
Four Lady Trappers scored in double digits with da Silva Sa leading the way with 11 points. The sophomore also had 13 boards for a double-double.
Payne, McArthur and Dallas Petties all finished with 10 points each. McArthur made three 3-point baskets.
“Charri [McArthur] did a great job both games this weekend just like knocking down shots,” Beal said. “She just did a great job of taking the shot when it was there.”
On the boards, Sayer had eight, Brown had six and Marlow had five.
For steals, Brown led with three, Silva had two and Tayla Sayer, Payne and McArthur each had one.
McManamen led in assists with three. Petties and Silva had two apiece and Aumua-Tuisavura, Sayer, Brown and Payne finished with one.
The Lady Trappers had 22 turnovers, while the Lady Cougars had 15.
“Overall, very, very proud of this group,” said Beal, adding that in Region IX, only one team gets to end their season on a win.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what this group accomplished throughout the season,” she said. “Just from finishing second in the region and our overall record [25-8], but more than even just the wins and losses just how much fun they’ve been as a group — just with each other, always concerned about their teammates and [being] excited for them, the bench and how excited they get. Just as whole, just couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve accomplished.”
Another season in the books
The Lady Trappers’ motto this season was “We over Me” and Beal feels the team exemplified that.
Of the sophomores who will be graduating in May, “that’s what’s hard about a junior college is that you only get kids for two years,” Beal said. The sophomores who concluded their Lady Trapper basketball careers in Casper — Mattie Creager, Savanna Savage, Payne, McArthur, Marlow, Petties, McManamen and Silva — “have done a great job of advancing our program and taking steps forward,” she said.
The coach added that, “You’ll never replace them; we’ll never have another of each of them.”
“We’ll just have to hit the recruiting trail,” Beal said. “There’s a lot of holes and shoes to fill with that sophomore class.”