It was a rough start to Region IX North conference play for the Northwest College men’s basketball team, as losses to Laramie County Community College and Eastern Wyoming on the road have the Trappers in an 0-2 hole.
NWC opened conference play Thursday, Jan. 10, at LCCC and struggled to get anything going in a 75-59 loss. Saturday was a different story, as the Trappers (7-11, 0-2) overcame a 20-point deficit against the EWC Lancers, forcing two overtimes before falling 81-78.
“Obviously we would have liked to have won both games,” said NWC head coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman. “The first game [at LCCC] it seemed like we just had nothing to give; we were a step behind the whole way. The guys were drained, no one had any energy. It was probably one of our worst outings of the season.”
“But the second game [against EWC], we came out slow, so I really challenged the guys,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “They rose to the challenge in that one.”
The Trappers continued conference play Wednesday on the road at Western Wyoming (6-10, 0-0), and will welcome in Gillette (11-7, 0-1) Saturday at Cabre Gym. Abdur-Rahkman said the team needs to sustain its defensive effort to be competitive.
“We have lapses where defense will break down,” he said. “This is a team effort, we have to get everyone involved. We gotta get better at being locked in for the full 30 seconds of the shot clock. At times, that comes back to haunt us. We need to maintain a high level of intensity and effort throughout the game.”
LCCC 75, Trappers 59
It was a lethargic Trappers squad that took the court against LCCC Thursday night, though NWC was able to keep it competitive early, trailing by just 26-21 at the half.
The Golden Eagles (8-10, 1-1) broke the game open in the second half, however, outscoring the Trappers 49-38 en route to a 75-59 win.
“They [LCCC] did what we expected, and I don’t know if it was a lack of understanding, or mental fatigue, but we couldn’t figure them out,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “That game was a disaster.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to NWC’s success was 7-foot shot blocker David Appelgren, who gave the Trappers fits underneath. Applegren finished the game with eight blocks and was one rebound shy of a double-double, with 13 points and nine boards.
“He [Appelgren] was just a disrupter. He had eight blocks against us and changed at least 10,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “We just continued to drive in there and not kick the ball out, and he was there. In my mind, he was the difference in the game, no question. He was a good rim protector.”
Lagio Grantsaan paced the Trappers with a double-double, netting 21 points and pulling down 17 boards. Kyle Brown was the only other Trapper in double figures, finishing with 10 points off the bench. Jason Feliz chipped in eight points, and Reme Torbert and Calvin Fugett finished with seven apiece.
Four Golden Eagles finished in double digits, led by Tyrese Potoma with 18 points.
EWC 81, Trappers 78
Northwest concluded its southern tour of the state against Eastern Wyoming on Saturday, a game that appeared to be a blowout early but became a nail-biter late.
Down by 20 at one point, the Trappers clawed their way back into the contest, outscoring the Lancers (6-10, 1-0) 30-21 in the second half and forcing two overtimes. Grantsaan had a look at an open 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the second OT to force a third bonus period, but came up short, giving EWC the 81-78 win.
“I gotta hand it to our guys: They rose to the challenge,” Abdur-Rahkman said of the Trappers’ comeback. “It showed a lot of heart and grit and determination, to be way down there at the end of a road trip at someone else’s gym and battle back like that.”
Kyle Brown had the hot hand for the Trappers, finishing with 17 points in addition to eight rebounds.
“Kyle [Brown] continues to play really well for us,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “The one thing I notice about him is he’s a warrior inside; he’s a soft-spoken kid, but when things start going awry and I get on him a little bit, he rises to another level. He wants the ball in those situations.”
Fugett followed with 16 points, including three shots from behind the arc, while Grantsaan just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Torbert rounded out NWC’s double-digit scorers with 11 points, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
For the Lancers, Jonatan Arvidsson led all scorers with 20 points, followed by a double-double from Brandon Meadows with 17 points and 13 boards.
“Eastern played as hard as anyone we’ve played, they were relentless,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “What I took away from the game is we can play that hard, or harder.”