After losing three straight games to start the season, the Northwest College men’s basketball team seems to have righted the ship, routing Rocky Mountain JV 99-66 in Tuesday’s home opener …
After losing three straight games to start the season, the Northwest College men’s basketball team seems to have righted the ship, routing Rocky Mountain JV 99-66 in Tuesday’s home opener to push their win streak to three games.
Four of the Trappers’ five starters finished in double digits, including a pair of double-doubles by sophomore Lagio Grantsaan (14 points, 11 boards) and freshman Brian Howell (17 points, 10 boards).
“I think everyone is buying into the philosophy of the offense — running it and then learning it,” said first-year head coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman of the Trappers. “They’re able to see what the defense is taking away, and then go to the counter.”
The Trappers (3-3), started fast, jumping out to a 22-8 lead over the Bears. Sophomore Saheem Anthony had the hot hand early, knocking down four of his six 3-pointers during that initial run, with sophomore Reme Torbert hitting a pair of threes.
“We do a lot of shooting in practice,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “These guys better be able to shoot. I tell them, ‘That’s why we practice shooting: You get open, you gotta knock that down.’”
Shaking off the cobwebs, Rocky made a comeback, going on a 15-2 run to cut the lead to 24-23.
“They [Rocky] started out in a zone, and we haven’t faced zone a lot,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “But I think our guys get the concept pretty good, and we have decent shooters. I’m a zone guy — where I’m from, that’s all you see. So it’s pretty easy to beat if you get guys that just think. Turn, face, reverse the ball, I think that was key.”
Proving that basketball is a game of runs, the Trappers answered with a 17-2 run of their own to close out the first half with a 41-25 lead.
Northwest picked up where it left off to start the second, outscoring Rocky 29-15 in the first 10 minutes to push the lead to 72-50. Howell followed that with nine points in five minutes, and Abdur-Rahkman went to his bench, getting solid play and points from sophomores Calvin Fugett and Laukan Taufa and freshmen Jason Feliz, Max Dehon and Kyle Brown. The Trappers cruised to the 99-66 win.
“We’re very happy we got that win,” Torbert said. “Now we hit the road again, and we just have to stay focused and stay humble. Tonight we were running plays and playing for each other. It wasn’t a one-man show tonight.”
Anthony paced the Trappers with 20 points, including a 6-11 effort from behind the arc. Howell followed with 17 points, while Grantsaan netted 14. Freshman Darius Webster just missed a double-double, netting 10 points and nine rebounds.
“Brian [Howell] and Darius [Webster] did really well today; they’re still learning,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “Darius came from a situation at Williston where he was playing a five, so I’ve got him on the perimeter a little bit. I told him to be able to make that step to the next level, he has to be able to play on the perimeter a little bit. But use your athleticism and your strength inside on rebounds and put-backs. He’s starting to buy into that.”
Torbert also just missed a double-double, showing why Abdur-Rahkman calls him a “dynamic, unselfish player” and finishing with nine points and nine assists.
Of Torbert, Grantsaan and Anthony, Abdur-Rahkman said the three are just beginning to scratch the surface of how good they can be.
“Reme [Torbert] is already good, and he’s just a feisty little guy,” he said. “Saheem [Anthony] has talent — he just has to get a little more ferocity about him. But Lagio [Grantsaan]’s that kid who I see sometimes in practice and say, ‘Why’s that NBA guy here?’ He’s a big strong kid, but he’s such a nice kid. I told him ‘You could make your family some money if you get a little meaner.’ But he’s coming along, too.”
Off the bench, Brown led with nine points, followed by Dehon with seven and Fugett with five.
The Trappers dominated Rocky on the boards, out-rebounding the Bears 47-25, with 30 on the defensive end of the floor.
The Trappers are back on the road this weekend, beginning with a game tonight (Thursday) against Lamar Community College in Colorado. The team will then square off against Otero Junior College Friday and Trinidad State Junior College Saturday. Abdur-Rahkman said he’s been amazed at the amount of travel the team has had to do so early in the season, but he’s chalking it up as a character builder, comparing the experience to an old Richard Pryor and James Earl Jones movie.
“We’re like the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars,” Abdur-Rahkman said, laughing. “We’re like a low-budget NBA program. Another weekend of three games in three nights. But it’s a blessing in disguise, because it has given us the adversity we need to grow as a team.”