Northwest College men earn first win

Split home classic

Posted 11/24/23

A difficult second half on Friday prevented the Northwest College men’s basketball team from starting the home schedule perfect during the Coach Collins Heart of a Champion Memorial Classic. …

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Northwest College men earn first win

Split home classic


A difficult second half on Friday prevented the Northwest College men’s basketball team from starting the home schedule perfect during the Coach Collins Heart of a Champion Memorial Classic. Northwest dropped its first contest 89-72 to Western Nebraska before defeating Bismarck State College 88-80 on Saturday to earn the team’s first win of the season.



Opening the home account at Cabre Gym, the Trappers (1-7) welcomed the Cougars (3-3) to Powell on Friday.

Northwest came out strong over the first four minutes, building a 12-5 advantage behind a strong push by the Trapper sophomores.

That lead grew to as many as eight at 18-10, before a push by Western Nebraska chipped it down to one possession at 22-19 with 8:24 left in the half.

Northwest absorbed the blow and pushed it back to a two possession lead until just a couple minutes remained in the first half.

The Cougars used one last 8-1 push to end the half and took their first lead of the game at 40-39 going into the locker room.

Northwest reclaimed the lead briefly out of the break, but an 11-0 run after that basket gave Western Nebraska the lead as the Trappers were forced into turnovers.

“I thought we played well in the first half, but they turned up the pressure and we didn’t respond very well,” coach Andy Ward said. “We played way too passive and when you play that way you tend to make more mistakes.”

The Cougars continued to push the initiative, building a double-digit lead up 61-51 with 12 minutes left.

Northwest couldn’t find its rhythm, allowing Western Nebraska to push the lead to 70-51 over the next three minutes.

The largest lead of the game came at 86-63 with three minutes left, with Northwest failing to get back in the contest and falling 89-72 to continue its winless start to the season.

“We just didn’t get as many good shots. Against a team like that you can’t do that,” Ward said.

Milton Rodriguez Santana, Kolter Merritt and Krue Stubbs all finished with 12 points to lead the Trappers, while Will Hemme led with five assists.



After the loss Friday the Trappers turned their attention to the Mystics (3-4) on Saturday, trying to salvage a split to open the season at home.

Bismarck came out strong early, holding the lead until Stubbs made three consecutive shots to push Northwest ahead 16-13, a lead the Trappers would not relinquish the remainder of the game.

“My message to the guys was to not play so passive. Don’t play like robots, we have a system but you have got to make instinctive basketball plays,” Ward said.

The Mystics continued to keep the contest close, battling to within a point multiple times but the Trappers had an answer each time to keep Bismarck at bay.

Over the final 3:34 the Trappers finished with a 9-0 run, heading into the locker room up 10, which included a Max Postiglione jumper at the buzzer to cap off the strong stretch.

The Trappers continued to hold that lead over the first couple of minutes to start the second half, before Bismarck quickly closed the gap back down to a single point at 52-51 with 16:45 left.

Just like the first half, the Trappers had an answer for the Mystics and pushed the lead back to as many as seven points.

“I thought the guys played a little bit more like they can play,” Ward said. “Sometimes as a coach you coach them hard and they forget who they are a little bit. They are trying to meld into the system, which we need to be organized and run our actions, but their individual talents can’t get lost in that. I thought they did a good job on Saturday of playing [loose] like basketball players.”

Northwest got one last foul on Bismarck’s leading scorer Isaiah Davis with 4:09 left, fouling him out with 26 points in the contest.

Northwest took advantage of Davis’ absence and pushed down the stretch, with a Drew Larson 3-pointer providing the dagger with 54 seconds left to make it a double-digit game once again.

Hemme was able to hit four free throws late to ice the contest and help Northwest earn its first win of the season with an 88-80 victory. The game was won at the free throw line for the Trappers, with both teams making the same amount of field goals and 3-point attempts, but Northwest finished with an eight free throws made advantage.

“We got to the free throw line and that was the difference,” Ward said. “We have been pretty good at that … That’s a goal of mine is for us to get to the free throw line and cash in on some easy points.”

Northwest finished with a season low in turnovers with seven in the game and finished with a slim 30-26 rebounding advantage.

Rodriguez Santana led with 24 points, Hemme finished with 17 points, Merritt finished with a 13 point, 15 rebound double-double and Stubbs finished with 12 points.

Drew Larson led with seven assists in the contest.



Northwest was able to squeeze two more games in before the Thanksgiving break, going into Montana for a trip on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Trappers lost a game against Dawson Community College 91-67 in Glendive on Tuesday, before heading to Billings to take on the Rocky Mountain JV on Wednesday. The results of the Rocky Mountain contest were determined after press time.

Catch full recaps of those games in next Thursday’s Powell Tribune.

Northwest will be back at home next week, taking on North Idaho College on Thursday, Nov. 30, before taking on Real Salt Lake on Saturday, Dec. 1.



Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()

Points — Milton Rodriguez Santana 12, Kolter Merritt 12, Krue Stubbs 12, Will Hemme 9, Kaden Christensen 9, Preston Condie 7, Drew Larson 5, Carter Clark 5, Colin Hayes 1

Rebounds — Kolter Merritt 5 (1), Drew Larson 4 (1), Milton Rodriguez Santana 3 (1), Carter Clark 3, Kaden Christensen 2 (1), Max Postiglione 2, Will Hemme 1, Preston Condie 1, Krue Stubbs 1, Colin Hayes 1

Assists — Will Hemme 5, Kaden Christensen 2, Kolter Merritt 1, Drew Larson 1, Colin Hayes 1

Steals — Will Hemme 1, Kaden Christensen 1, Carter Clark 1, Preston Condie 1



Points — Milton Rodriguez Santana 24, Will Hemme 17, Kolter Merritt 13, Krue Stubbs 12, Drew Larson 7, Colin Hayes 7, Max Postiglione 5, Preston Condie 2, Carter Clark 1

Rebounds — Kolter Merritt 15 (4), Milton Rodriguez Santana 5 (2), Krue Stubbs 3, Will Hemme 2, Drew Larson 2 (1), Carter Clark 1, Preston Condie 1, Colin Hayes 1 (1)

Assists — Drew Larson 7, Milton Rodriguez Santana 2, Will Hemme 2, Carter Clark 2, Krue Stubbs 2, Kolter Merritt 1, Kaden Christensen 1, Max Postiglione 1, Preston Condie 1

Steals — Kolter Merritt 2, Drew Larson 2, Colin Hayes 2

Blocks — Kolter Merritt 1