After a promising 3-2 start to open Region IX North conference play, the Northwest College men’s basketball team has dropped five straight, with road losses last week at Sheridan and …
After a promising 3-2 start to open Region IX North conference play, the Northwest College men’s basketball team has dropped five straight, with road losses last week at Sheridan and Gillette.
Sheridan proved why the Generals are ranked No. 8 in the nation on Feb. 6, routing NWC 84-53. The Trappers followed that with an 82-67 loss to Gillette Saturday. They now sit at 3-7 in the conference, with four games to play.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, but you try to look and see where you can take some positives out of the big negative,” said NWC head coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman. “The fact of the matter is we were down two starters in Reme Torbert and Kyle Brown. You take those two guys out of the equation, and it makes it harder to compete, especially against good teams. But that’s the grind of the season. We just have to weather the storm.”
The Trappers played at Central Wyoming Wednesday, and will host Casper at Cabre Gym Saturday. Casper comes in as the No. 10 team in the nation, sporting a 24-2 record; Abdur-Rahkman said execution will be the key to the team’s success against the Thunderbirds.
“We need to be under control and be patient,” he said. “We have to cut down on mistakes, and we can’t have the turnovers. Unforced errors and defensive rebounds — that’s what we need to work on, plus good production out of our bench. With that, we can mount a good effort. It will be a tall task.”
Sheridan 84, Trappers 53
Wednesday’s game against Sheridan (25-1, 4-0) got out of hand early, with the Generals taking a 20-point lead into the half, 48-28.
The Trappers didn’t fare much better in the second, as Sheridan outscored the visitors 36-25 to coast to a 84-53 win.
Rebounds were a factor in the game for Northwest, as they were out-rebounded 53-29 by the Generals. The Trappers managed just seven rebounds on the offensive side of the floor.
“I preached and preached how good these guys [Sheridan] are, but until you get out there and are playing them, you don’t really get it,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “Sheridan got out and pushed the ball; they were relentless. They were more aggressive, and we just couldn’t catch up to them. I challenged the team at halftime, but even though we played better in the second, we just couldn’t break the margin.”
Lagio Grantsaan was the lone Trapper in double figures, netting 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Brian Howell followed with nine points, while Torbert, Jason Feliz and Darius Webster finished with five apiece.
NWC shot just 29 percent from the floor (20-of-67), while Sheridan countered with a 32-of-64 performance (50 percent).
“We’re good enough to compete with them when we play well, but talent-wise we are just not as good as them,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “Hopefully it opened their eyes.”
Gillette 82, Trappers 67
The loss of Torbert and Brown was most noticeably felt against Gillette Saturday, as the Trappers were the victims of a slow start yet again. Sophomore Axel Okongo was also sidelined with an injury sustained early in the game.
“I think if we had just one of those guys available to us, we would have had a better shot,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “With the guards we were missing and the impact they have on the offensive end, it was tough to get our bigger guys in better scoring situations.”
Grantsaan paced the Trappers with a double-double, netting 22 points and grabbing 14 boards. Calvin Fugett followed with 14 points to go along with five assists, and Brian Howell just missed a double-double of his own, scoring 10 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
Saheem Anthony and Darius Webster finished with eight points each, with Webster also dishing out five assists.
The Trappers improved their shooting percentage dramatically against Gillette, going 27-of-59 for 45.8 percent. Gillette won the battle of the boards 42-36.
Grantsaan, Howell and Fugett each played over 30 minutes in the game, a necessity due to the team’s injuries. Abdur-Rahkman said fatigue definitely played a part, especially late.
“They were dead tired,” the coach said. “The most important thing for us is energy and effort, and we need to be able to rest these guys. If Lagio [Grantsaan], Brian [Howell] and Calvin [Fugett] had a little bit more energy at Gillette, which was no fault of their own, we probably could have won that game.”