Second-half struggles cost NWC Trappers

Posted 11/12/09

“In all three games, we were able to get off to fast starts,” said Ward. “In the first two, it just seemed like we had a four- or five-minute stretch in the second half where we didn't make good decisions and allowed our opponent …

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Second-half struggles cost NWC Trappers


Trapper men net just one victory during road tripGetting off to a fast start doesn't seem to be an issue for the 2009-2010 Northwest College men's basketball program. Finishing the deal? Well, that might require a little more work.The Trapper men were sitting pretty after the first half in each of their three contests last weekend. Head Coach Andy Ward's club was only able to manage one victory, however, as NWC fell 78-75 to Laramie County and 90-73 to the College of Southern Idaho before salvaging a 77-60 victory over Williston State to complete its weekend.

“In all three games, we were able to get off to fast starts,” said Ward. “In the first two, it just seemed like we had a four- or five-minute stretch in the second half where we didn't make good decisions and allowed our opponent to beat us in transition. We need to play the game the same whether we're up 10 points or behind 10 points.”

The Laramie County contest was a particularly bitter pill for Ward to swallow. After watching his team take an eight-point lead into the half and control play for much of the first 30 minutes, Ward watched as that effort was nullified by a five-minute stretch in the second half.

“We jumped on them early and I don't think they led in the game until there were about five minutes left,” Ward said. “They hurt us in transition and we made some poor shot-selection decisions and suddenly they had the lead.”

Laramie County still held a two-point lead with 45 seconds remaining when Mitch Ackelson, who had seven steals in the Trappers' season-opener, struck again. Ackelson tipped the ball away and was fouled after gaining possession. The Trappers' sophomore connected on both free shots to tie the game.

Laramie responded by knocking down a three-pointer with six seconds remaining to get the win.

“It was a deep three, and I thought we did a good job of contesting it,” said Ward. “We were able to get down the floor and take a decent attempt to tie, but we didn't hit it.”

Freshman Alfonzo Hubbard had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead NWC in the contest. Casper Hesseldal added 15 points and eight boards while Demetrice Jacobs tossed in 12 points to go along with five assists.

After the Thursday-night loss in Cheyenne, the Trappers faced a quick turnaround, playing the College of Southern Idaho in an afternoon contest in Casper.

“We were a little concerned with fatigue, because it was a tough turnaround to play, then have to get up early and travel and play again the next afternoon,” said Ward.

Fatigue certainly didn't seem to be an issue early on. Northwest College scored 17 of the game's first 21 points to take Southern Idaho by surprise. The Trappers held a 50-44 cushion at intermission, but managed just 23 points over the game's final 20 minutes.

“We had 31 turnovers in the game,” Ward said. “We gave the game away with poor decisions. We just didn't make good decisions against their pressure. Southern Idaho is a very athletic team.”

Hubbard and Hesseldal again led the way for the Trappers, finishing with 22 and 20 points, respectively. The pair also turned out three assists each to share team-high honors in that category as well. Jacobs added 12 points as the trio again finished as the only NWC players scoring in double figures.

The Trappers' lone weekend victory came on Saturday in the Casper Wells-Fargo Shoot Out. After vaulting to a 32-21 halftime lead over Williston, Ward had a simple locker room speech for his club.

“We just said, hey, we've been here before this weekend,” said Ward. “We challenged them to play more organized and to make better decisions in the second half. They went out and pushed the lead and held on to the advantage through the second half.”

Hesseldal finished with a double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 boards. Hubbard finished as the night's leading scorer, netting 23 points for the Trappers while Valdez Green ended the evening with 17 points.

Ricardo Andreotti also pulled down 10 rebounds for Northwest while Ackelson paced the team with six assists.

After an active first weekend of the season, Northwest College enjoys a relatively quiet week. The team's lone game is Saturday at the College of Eastern Utah, but Ward says it might be the Trappers' toughest challenge to date this season.

“I think they're better than Southern Idaho when you really look at them,” Ward said of Saturday's opponent. “They'll come out and really test us. We'll have to play our best ball of the year.”

The game will be the first of two encounters between Northwest and Eastern Utah over the next week. The two schools also hook up in Powell on Nov. 21 as part of the First National Bank Shootout. The Trappers also host Western Montana next Friday, Nov. 20, as part of that event.