In the first half of play Saturday, Selena Cudney scored a quiet eight points, giving no indication she was ready for a breakout game for the Northwest College women’s basketball team. Cudney scored another eight points in the second half, then exploded for nine points in overtime to help the Lady Trappers take down Western Wyoming, 86-82 at home.
Cudney scored a game-high 25 points, as NWC (4-25 overall, 2-12 in Region IX) notched its second conference win in three games. It was an encouraging end to the team’s regular season, and a memorable sendoff for the team’s sophomores, who were honored after the game.
“Oh man, I’m so happy for our kids,” said NWC head coach Camden Levett. “With the way the year has gone, and to get this win at home — we’re sending them out on a good note. It’s even better when it’s overtime, give those sophomores five more minutes out there; I’m so happy for them.
“This was our Super Bowl,” Levett said, “our championship game.”
In a contest that featured 19 lead changes — four in overtime alone — to call the teams evenly matched would be an understatement. The Lady Trappers led 25-19 at the end of the first quarter, but Western (5-23, 2-12) battled back to tie the game at halftime, 42-42.
Northwest went on a quick 11-2 run to start the second half, with Cudney and Kaylee Brown scoring four points apiece and Shelby Wardell hitting a 3-pointer. That gave the Lady Trappers their largest lead, at 53-44.
The Lady Mustangs countered by cutting the lead to 60-59 by the end of the third. The fourth quarter was back and forth the entire way, with neither team able to get an advantage. As time expired, the game was knotted at 72.
“They [Western Wyoming] pressed, they went zone, they played man,” Levett said. “This late in the year, you hope you’re ready for everything, and tonight we were.”
In the overtime period, the Lady Trappers erupted for 14 points in five minutes, with Cudney scoring nine to lead the charge. Melissa Martinez sank a clutch 3-pointer, and Brown and Taylor Groll each sank a free throw to close out the 86-82 win.
“We played our game, and we didn’t hang our heads when they hit a shot to force overtime,” Levett said. “And I’m just so proud of the sophomores — they played their butts off.”
Freshman Tess Henry, who finished with two points, said it felt “so good” to win.
“Everyone was there to support us even though we haven’t had the most successful season,” Henry said. “Definitely couldn’t have done it without everyone there cheering us on.”
Cudney just missed a double-double, with nine rebounds. Berkley Larsen followed with 13 points, while Martinez netted 12. Brown rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points in her final game at Cabre Gym. The sophomore said winning in front of the home crowd one last time will be a memory she’ll cherish.
“This has really been a tough season, but our support through it all has been so amazing,” Brown said. “It was so great to get a season-finale win for all of them. As a team we have been working really hard and it’s a great feeling to have it pay off.”
Sophomore Shelby Wardell of Lovell finished with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Juliana Ribeiro netted seven points and grabbed seven boards while Groll chipped in five. Sophomore Tayla Sayer finished her final home game with four points, nine boards and three assists.
“It was awesome winning one last time on our home floor,” she said.
Following the game the team honored its sophomores — Brown, Sayer, Wardell and player/coach Samantha McCrorey.
“Those four girls have meant everything to this team,” Levett said. “Me being a first-year coach, first time in Powell, I went to them and relied on them with a lot of questions. They’ve meant a lot to this program, and I think they’ve meant a lot to this community. They’re really good kids and they’ve done everything right.”
McCrorey, who was sidelined this season with an injury, played a pivotal role off the court for the Lady Trappers, acting as an assistant coach and “doing a great job” for Levett.
“The win was very much deserved for everyone on the team and it’s really nice knowing that on our last game here we got a win,” said McCrorey, who was given a medical redshirt at the beginning of the season, leaving the door open for a possible return. “It will always be remembered and it’s really amazing to see all of our improvements from the first game to our last game.”
The Lady Trappers travel to Casper Friday to take on the Region IX North-leading Lady T-Birds (24-6, 13-1) in the tournament play-in game. Levett said his team will have its work cut out for them, but they’re excited for the opportunity to extend their season.
“It’s a tall task ahead of us, but hopefully we get a little momentum from [Saturday],” he said. “We’re showing that we can play with anybody.”
But win or lose on Friday, Brown said Saturday’s win is one that can’t be taken away.
“I’m really going to miss playing on this court for the amazing supporters we have here, my teammates who have become more than just friends, and for the great coaches we have had,” she said. “I’m so glad that we got to go out with a bang.”
Sheridan 54, Lady Trappers 49
In a Feb. 20 rematch with Sheridan College at Cabre Gym, a shaky fourth quarter once again proved to be Northwest’s undoing, as the Lady Generals (18-12, 8-6) doubled up the Lady Trappers 16-8 in the final frame to win 54-49.
After Northwest trailed 16-15 after the first quarter, Wardell provided a spark off the bench, draining three 3-pointers to give Northwest a 29-25 lead at the break.
Sheridan regrouped in the second half, however, to earn the season sweep.
Wardell, Tess Henry and Selena Cudney paced the Northwest Lady Trappers with nine points each; Cudney also led the team in rebounds with nine.