But the Trappers showed a glimmer of being the team they are capable of last week, outlasting Sheridan in a triple overtime classic and overcoming fatigue and a slow start to down Little Big Horn in a back-to-back home stand.
“On Wednesday, Sukhjot Bains played really, really well, then Thursday, Jonathan (Koud) played well,” said NWC head coach Brian Erickson. “Those are the two guys who have been kind of struggling for us since we got back from the break. Now with them playing well, and everyone stepping up their game, we’re finding that rhythm we’ve been missing.”
With conference wins at a premium and the regular season winding down, the Trappers (17-9 overall, 5-5 in conference) find themselves in an enviable position, boasting a 3-1 record against the final four teams on their schedule. This statistic could bode well for the Trappers heading into the Region IX Tournament.
“I think we’re becoming a team that’s going to be scary as we finish up the year,” Erickson said. “Right now, we’re 5-5 (in conference), Sheridan is 5-5, Western Wyoming is 4-6 and Central is 7-3. Every one of these games are putting us to where we’ll be seeded in the tournament. It’s going to be a middle-of-the-pack race, so these games are important.”
NWC 101, Sheridan 100 triple-OT
Coach Erickson has been telling his team all season that 40 minutes of solid, fundamental basketball should be their goal with each and every game.
Turns out against the Sheridan Generals Wednesday, Feb. 8, 40 minutes wasn’t quite enough.
In a game that saw 13 lead changes and 16 ties, the Trappers gutted out a triple-overtime win, 101-100.
“I keep stressing that we have to play 40 minutes,” Erickson said. “After the end of regulation, I went to the guys and said ‘Hey, I’m sorry, but I lied to you. We gotta play 45 minutes.’ They kind of laughed, and at the second overtime, I said ‘I feel like I’m doing a terrible job. But the truth is, we have to play 50.’ The next time around, I said ‘Well, let’s just play 55.’ We just tried to keep it light.”
Sheridan (19-7, 5-5) jumped out to a fast start, running their lead to 13 points before going into the half up 52-45.
“I thought the first half we were really disciplined in our defense, but again, we gave up way too many points,” Erickson said. “We couldn’t stop (Laden) Ricketts, he hit like six 3-pointers in the first half. We just kind of got beat up. I thought we scored the ball well, we were sharing the ball well, our offense was a lot different than it has been in the past, and I was happy with that.”
NWC was able to regroup, led by an impressive offensive output that saw four Trappers finish the game in double figures. Sukhjot Bains flirted with a double-double for NWC, leading all scorers with 27 points and pulling down nine rebounds, all defensive.
Skyler Zabriskie had the hot hand from behind the arc, hitting 6-of-7 3-pointers to finish with 18 points. Levi Londole also netted 18 points for the Trappers, followed by Marshall McArthur with 12 points, to go along with three assists.
“The second half, I thought we really put it together at both ends,” Erickson said. “We held them to 23 points, and I thought we scored well, got good shots, played together. I thought we made a big step that second half, but couldn’t quite close it out.”
Jonathan Koud finished with nine points, while Damon Leach chipped in eight points to go along with seven boards. Blake Hinze led NWC with seven assists while scoring seven points.
The Generals finished with six players in double figures led by Ricketts with 21.
The Trappers sank 13 3-pointers, and out-rebounded Sheridan 34-33. NWC shot 80 percent on free throws, 37 percent on 3-point shots and 51 percent from the field, compared to MCC’s 61 percent on free throws, 57 percent on 3-point shots and 53 percent from the field. The Trappers had 26 turnovers compared to 19 for the Generals.
“We still have some room for improvement, especially in late game situations,” Erickson said. “But overall, we were pretty happy to get a win. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
NWC 86, LBHC 73
With hardly time to catch their breath, the Trappers were right back on the court Thursday, overcoming a sluggish start to hold off Little Big Horn College.
“We weren’t too excited with how we played at the beginning,” Erickson said. “I think some of it was fatigue. We came out thinking we could just show up, didn’t have to really compete. I think that game showed them right there, and it’s probably a good thing for us, that each night you have to show up, no matter who you’re playing.”
NWC rarely plays back-to-back games and it showed early, with Little Big Horn using quickness and solid shooting against a fatigued Trappers squad. The Rams, who led by eight at one point, took a 33-31 lead at halftime. A halftime speech by Erickson proved to be unnecessary, however, as the players took it upon themselves to fire each other up.
“I was listening to them through the door in my office as they were talking, and they were making all the good points,” Erickson said. “I just went in and pointed at all the captains and asked, ‘What did you say?’ Each one of them spoke up, and I said ‘All right, why don’t we change that then? You guys came up with all the answers, why don’t we start doing those types of things.’”
The Trappers found their rhythm in the second half behind solid offensive efforts by Koud and Carter Baxter. Defensive adjustments allowed the team to play to its strengths.
“Being fatigued, we couldn’t stay in front of them,” Erickson explained. “They have a couple of really quick guards, we had a hard time stopping their penetration. We went to a half-court trap and fell back into a zone, tried to make them jump-shooters. I think that’s how we got our lead.”
Koud led all scorers with 24 points, sinking 6-of-8 from behind the arc; Baxter followed with a double-double, netting 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Levi Londole finished with 12 points, while Marshall McArthur just missed a double-double, pulling down 11 boards to go along with his nine points.
Sukhjot Bains and Seth Bennett chipped in six points apiece, with Bains adding 10 rebounds.
The Rams had three players in double figures, led by Davean Yazzie with 21 points.
The Trappers finished with 12 3-pointers, and out-rebounded Little Big Horn 52-30. NWC shot 71 percent on free throws, 38 percent on 3-point shots and 37 percent from the field, compared to LBHC’s 73 percent on free throws, 26 percent on 3-point shots and 42 percent from the field. The Trappers had 14 turnovers compared to 10 for the Rams.
NWC traveled to Miles Community College Wednesday, and will host Western Wyoming Community College Saturday at Cabre Gym.
The Trappers will host their final home game of the season Wednesday, Feb. 22, against Central Wyoming College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.