Led by sophomore Reme Torbert’s first triple-double in Trapper red, the Northwest College men’s basketball team started 2019 in impressive fashion Saturday. The Trappers survived a second-half comeback to down Williston State in overtime, 94-93 at Cabre Gym.
“The key to this game was we stayed together,” said NWC head coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman. “One of the points I made to the team post-game was an Army reference — we would train to go to battle.
“... When things are going crazy and everything is flying around, you’re gonna have arguments,” the coach said. “But the key is being able to check it down when it’s time to continue on, and I thought they [the Trappers] did a good job of that tonight. They showed their passion for wanting to win.”
Torbert’s stat line of 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists represented the Trappers’ first triple-double since former Trapper and current Toronto Raptor Chris Boucher roamed the court for NWC (7-9) during the 2014-2015 season. In all, five NWC players finished the game in double digits.
“Reme [Torbert] was unconscious, man,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “We’re down some players, so I played him pretty much the whole game, and he was just in the zone. It was fun to watch.”
This was the third meeting this season between the two teams, with the Tetons winning the first two 106-67 and 70-67, respectively.
Saturday’s game was tight throughout, with 13 ties and an astounding 23 lead changes. The Tetons (14-15 overall) held a slight advantage at the half 43-41. Down seven points with just over two minutes left in the half, NWC’s Calvin Fugett hit back-to-back shots and Lagio Grantsaan scored to pull within a basket. Eleven of Torbert’s 32 points came in the first half.
“We’re starting to see some progress with playing as a team, and that’s our biggest focus right now,” Torbert said. “We’re playing with that ‘next guy up’ mentality, and everybody showed that in the first half. We’re seizing the moment.”
The Trappers got a fast start in the second half, rattling off a 19-8 run and taking a 10-point lead, 61-51. Torbert hit three 3-pointers in that stretch, with Fugett and Brian Howell also hitting big shots.
Not content to roll over, Williston State clawed their way back into the game, tying it at 63-63 with just over nine minutes to play. The two teams would swap leads for the next seven minutes before NWC grabbed a five-point lead with 1:29 left on the clock, 83-78. But a field goal by Williston’s James Jones and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Mychael Paulo sent the game into OT.
Like the rest of the game, the OT period was tooth-and-nail, with neither team able to gain a big advantage. But a Jason Feliz 3-pointer with 46 seconds left to play proved to be the gamewinner, giving the Trappers a two-point lead. Torbert hit a pair of free throws and the Tetons ran out of time, giving NWC a 94-93 win.
“The guys showed a lot of heart tonight,” Abdur-Rahkman said of the Trappers. “We could have given up that game a long time ago, and we’ve been beat by them twice. But they were determined to win today.”
Torbert’s 32 points led all scorers, and both teams had five players in double figures. NWC’s Grantsaan finished with 19 points, while Fugett netted 16, to go along with seven assists. Abdur-Rahkman said he continues to be amazed by Grantsaan’s athleticism.
“He [Grantsaan] did that one move — I call it his ‘Superman’ move — on one of his dunks,” he said. “There’s no way he should have got from outside of that block to the rim and dunked that. I told him, ‘Do you know what you just did? You need to do that more often.’”
Howell and Saheem Anthony chipped in 10 points apiece.
“Saheem [Anthony] came off the bench and gave us 10 points, and they were points when we really needed them,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “When he scored his points, we were in a drought. All of a sudden he’s knocking down some shots and getting us fired up again.”
As for Torbert’s triple-double, which included six 3-pointers, the sophomore was quick to credit his teammates for their role in the accomplishment. He said he was as surprised as anyone when told after the game his final numbers.
“I really just went out and played. I didn’t go out there saying, ‘I’m going to go out and score this many, get this many assists,’” he said. “I just went in there with the mindset of leaving it all on the floor and play my hardest. Whatever happens, happens. It just worked out this time.”
Jones paced the Tetons with 21 points, while teammates Sita Conteh and Devale Johnson finished with 20 and 18, respectively.
The Trappers are back in action tonight (Thursday), opening Region IX North conference play on the road against Laramie County CC in Cheyenne. The team travels to Torrington Saturday to take on Eastern Wyoming.
“I think we’re in a good place right now,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “With Darius [Webster] and Kyle [Brown] coming back, I feel good about our chances. I think we should be able to compete in this league. I think people are going to overlook us, so we’ll be ready to capitalize on that.”
“I think this week we gotta stay level-headed, but still be hungry,” he said. “Don’t lose that hunger, because we’re still the underdogs. The biggest key for us going into the weekend will be being hungry and [to] continue to do what we do.”