The Northwest College men’s basketball season ended at the Region IX tournament in Casper on Friday. The Trappers fell in the semifinals to Trinidad State, 87-63, after defeating Lamar …
The Northwest College men’s basketball season ended at the Region IX tournament in Casper on Friday. The Trappers fell in the semifinals to Trinidad State, 87-63, after defeating Lamar Community College 69-68 in dramatic fashion in the previous day’s quarterfinals.
NORTHWEST 69, LAMAR 68
After enjoying a week to rest and prepare, the Trappers (20-11) came out strong early against the Runnin Lopes (11-20) on March 9. NWC took a 7-2 lead four minutes into the game and forced a timeout.
Lamar responded over the next six minutes to lead 16-15 midway through the half.
The contest remained close, while Davion McAdam scored 14 of the Trappers’s first 21 points.
Northwest went up 26-23 with 3:31 left, but again fell behind and trailed 29-27 at the half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Lamar extended its lead to nine points — 38-29 — and forced a timeout from NWC coach Andy Ward.
The Trappers battled back, and regained the lead on another McAdam bucket to make it 43-42 with just under 12 minutes left.
Midway through the period, Will Hemme hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to four points and Northwest appeared to have gained control of the contest.
However, a strong push over the next two minutes helped Lamar retake a 53-52 advantage.
Over the next five minutes the teams exchanged leads, then a four-point play put the Runnin Lopes up 63-60. With under a minute remaining, Lamar led 66-62. A Yannis Nlend layup cut the lead to two, but a pair of Runnin Lopes free throws extended it back to four.
McAdam gave the Trappers new life by hitting a 3-pointer and making it a one-point game, 68-67 Lamar, with 11 seconds left. Lamar broke the press on the inbound and got a fast break opportunity, but the Runnin Lopes’ layup was blocked by NWC’s Kolter Merritt. That gave Northwest the ball and five seconds to try and win the game.
An ensuing 3-point try by Hemme came up short, but Merritt tipped the ball just before the buzzer. It bounced high off the rim before dropping in to give Northwest the dramatic win, 69-68.
“Coach just always says hustle. That is something you can control in a game is rebounds. Nobody can control how you shoot in a game so I am always going to hustle and get every rebound,” said Merritt, a redshirt freshman from Star Valley. “Everything goes silent and you pray that you did the right thing — and the shot ended up falling.”
McAdam finished with 26 points in the contest while Nlend added 19.
“That was an incredible finish to a hard-fought game,” Ward said. “I think this team showed an amazing amount of resilience and toughness, they never quit.
“That finish was the most amazing last 20 seconds I’ve ever seen,” the veteran coach added. “Davion [McAdam] made a big three and Kolter [Merritt] finished it off with his fantastic effort to block the shot on one end and tip-in the game winning basket at the other — an outstanding, never quit, multiple effort play.”
TRINIDAD STATE 87, NORTHWEST 63
After Thursday’s victory, the Trappers turned around on Friday to play the defending Region IX champion Trojans (23-7), the top seed out of Region IX South.
Northwest stumbled out of the gates, trailing 6-0 and calling a timeout less than three minutes into the game.
“I think the emotion everyone felt from the extraordinary victory over Lamar may have had some impact on us coming into the semifinal, but we faced the defending and eventual Region IX Champions in Trinidad State College, who is an excellent team,” Ward said. “They had a lot to do with how we played. Their pressure on the defensive end caused us some problems and we just made too many mistakes on the defensive end.”
A response by the Trappers out of the timeout — including a layup from David Ayala — helped even the contest at nine. But from that point forward, the Trojans took full control of the game, sparked by strong 3-point shooting and guard play.
“Trinidad has tremendous guard play — they run their offense very well and have players who pose a lot of match-up problems for the opponent,” Ward said. “We tried to mix our defenses and for a while it was fairly effective. One of our biggest issues in the first half was our inability to finish possessions with a defensive rebound.”
Northwest was unable to regain its footing, with Trinidad pushing the lead out to double digits and holding a 41-26 lead at the half.
Out of the break the Trojans immediately pushed the lead out to 21, and never looked back en route to a resounding 87-63 victory.
McAdam and Mack Page led the Trappers with 14 points apiece in the contest.
LONG RIDE COMES TO AN END
It has been a long, difficult journey for the Trappers this season, as coach Jay Collins unexpectedly passed away in July. Ward came into the program in late September, just before Northwest’s preseason began.
“Considering the horrific circumstances, this season was a very positive one for the Trappers,” Ward said. “I think the guys on the team made a very good adjustment to the adversity they faced upon the tragic passing of Coach Collins. We devoted this season to him and I believe he would be very proud of how these guys came together and competed at a high level.”
This season the Trappers held their inaugural Coach Collins Heart of a Champion Memorial Tournament, which will be held every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Northwest ended the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Region IX North, and posted an improved 20-11 record while finishing 7-2 in region play.
“Certainly, we had our ups and downs this year, but the guys embraced coach Collins’ team motto: ‘How? Together,’” Ward said. “I’m very proud of what this team was able to accomplish under extremely difficult circumstances.”
NORTHWEST 69, LAMAR 68
Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()
Points — Davion McAdam 26, Yannice Nlend 19, David Ayala 5, Juan Pablo Camargo 5, Will Hemme 5, Mack Page 5, Kolter Merritt 4
Rebounds — Yannice Nlend 7 (2), Juan Pablo Camargo 6 (2), Davion McAdam 5 (2), Will Hemme 4, Mack Page 4 (1), Kolter Merritt 4 (1), David Ayala 3 (1)
Assists — Will Hemme 4, Yannice Nlend 3, Davion McAdam 2, David Ayala 1, Mack Page 1, Kolter Merritt 1
Steals — Davion McAdam 2, Yannice Nlend 1, Will Hemme 1
Blocks — Mack Page 1, Kolter Merritt 1
TRINIDAD STATE 87, NORTHWEST 63
Points — Davion McAdam 14, Mack Page 14, David Ayala 8, Kolter Merritt 8, Juan Pablo Camargo 6, Andre Loigu 3, Will Hemme 3, Christian Adun 3, Yannice Nlend 2, Milton Rodriguez Santana 2
Rebounds — Mack Page 5 (1), Davion McAdam 4, Andre Loigu 4 (1), Yannice Nlend 4 (1), Kolter Merritt 4 (1), Juan Pablo Camargo 3, Brash Emery 2 (1), David Ayala 1 (1), Will Hemme 1, Antwon Logan 1 (1)
Assists — Davion McAdam 2, Will Hemme 2, Juan Pablo Camargo 1, Brash Emery 1
Steals — Brash Emery 2, Davion McAdam 1, David Ayala 1
Blocks — David Ayala 2, Davion McAdam 1, Yannice Nlend 1, Christian Adun 1, Kolter Merritt 1