Turnovers trouble for Trapper men

Fall short on the road in Riverton

Posted 2/22/24

Turnovers and offensive rebounds stumped the Northwest College men’s basketball team in Riverton on Saturday, resulting in a close 75-70 loss to the Central Wyoming Rustlers.


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Turnovers trouble for Trapper men

Fall short on the road in Riverton


Turnovers and offensive rebounds stumped the Northwest College men’s basketball team in Riverton on Saturday, resulting in a close 75-70 loss to the Central Wyoming Rustlers.



Early on the Trappers (12-15 overall, 3-6 Region IX North) were looking to take it to the Rustlers (15-12 overall, 6-3 Region IX North) after defeating Central last month in Powell.

Northwest took advantage early and built a 10-2 lead over the first three minutes, with the hosts unable to find an offensive rhythm.

That lead stretched out to double-digits at 17-7 just minutes later on a Milton Rodriguez Santana basket.

Central worked its way back into the contest over the next five minutes, forcing the Trappers into turnovers that led to transition baskets that tightened the gap down to one possession.

“They had 11 more opportunities than we did because we turned it over 11 more times,” coach Andy Ward said.

That run eventually gained the Rustlers the lead for the first time at 27-25 before the two teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the first half, with the Rustlers up 41-39 at the break.

Both teams exchanged baskets early in the second half, with the Trappers holding a slight advantage up 52-49 with 14:30 remaining.

Northwest found the largest advantage it could in the second half with seven minutes remaining after a Will Hemme 3-pointer, and maintained that advantage up 66-62 with 5:39 left.

Central tied the contest at 68 with four minutes left, and took the lead on a 3-pointer with three minutes remaining.

Northwest kept the contest within reach, trailing 71-70 after a pair of Colin Hayes free throws.

The Trappers couldn’t find a basket to take the lead, as Central found a layup to extend its advantage and free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining sealed the final score at 75-70.

“It came down to they got more shot attempts than we did. That happens when you turn the ball over more than they do and when they get more offensive rebounds than we do,” Ward said.

Hayes led once again with 23 points for the Trappers. Hemme and Drew Larson tied as the other double-digit scorers with 15 each.

Kolter Merritt led with eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Northwest turned over the ball 16 times compared to five for Central. The Rustlers also finished with 13 offensive rebounds compared to six for the Trappers.

“I told the guys aside from those two things, which are pretty glaring, we played pretty well,” Ward said. “We did a pretty good job on their two best scorers. I thought the guys made a nice adjustment throughout the game. In a lot of ways we played well enough to win but those two areas killed us.”



Northwest returned home Wednesday night to take on the Casper College Thunderbirds (18-8 overall, 6-2 Region IX North); that result was determined after the press deadline.

The Trappers will stay at home this weekend, wrapping up their home schedule with a game against the Western Wyoming Mustangs (14-11 overall, 3-5 Region IX North) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cabre Gym.

“I don’t worry too much about our offense, it’s more about us getting to our offense and taking care of the ball,” Ward said. “I think defensively we’ve done some really good things but we haven’t finished possessions like we need to with rebounding.”

All seven teams in the Region IX North will advance to the postseason this year, with the top seed receiving a bye in the opening round.

Northwest sits in the sixth seed heading into its final three games, just behind Western by half a game due to having one more loss.

The Trappers will need to finish ahead of Laramie County Community College in the standings to host a game since the Golden Eagles swept Northwest during the regular season.

LCCC currently has a full game lead on Northwest in the standings with three games remaining.



Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()

Points — Colin Hayes 23, Will Hemme 15, Drew Larson 15, Kolter Merritt 6, Milton Rodriguez Santana 4, Preston Condie 4, Tessi Thong 3

Rebounds — Kolter Merritt 8 (2), Will Hemme 6, Drew Larson 4 (1), Colin Hayes 4 (1), Milton Rodriguez Santana 2 (1), Isaiah Halverson 2 (1), Preston Condie 1

Assists — Kolter Merritt 8, Will Hemme 5, Milton Rodriguez Santana 3, Isaiah Halverson 3, Drew Larson 2, Colin Hayes 1

Steals — Kolter Merritt 3, Milton Rodriguez Santana 1

Blocks — Preston Condie 1



(as of Wednesday morning, Feb. 21)

1. Gillette College 22-4 overall, 7-1 Region IX North

2. Casper College 18-8 overall, 6-2 Region IX North

3. Central Wyoming 15-12 overall, 6-3 Region IX North

4. Laramie County 15-12 overall, 4-5 Region IX North

5. Western Wyoming 14-11 overall, 3-5 Region IX North

6. Northwest 12-15 overall, 3-6 Region IX North

7. Eastern Wyoming 4-21 overall, 1-8 Region IX North