Shooting slump: Difficult night ends Trappers’ season

Posted 3/21/24

Poor shooting brought the Northwest College men’s basketball season to an end last Thursday, as the Trappers dropped their Region IX quarterfinal game to host Western Nebraska 84-72.

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Shooting slump: Difficult night ends Trappers’ season


Poor shooting brought the Northwest College men’s basketball season to an end last Thursday, as the Trappers dropped their Region IX quarterfinal game to host Western Nebraska 84-72.



After winning their play-in game the week prior the Trappers (14-18 overall) were rewarded with a game against the host team and Region IX South winning Cougars (24-9).

Early on, both teams attempted to get to the rim, with the hosts holding a small advantage up 11-6 four minutes in.

“They have really strong guard play and one of their strengths is getting in the lane,” coach Andy Ward said. “They shoot the ball pretty well — it was a very physical game.”

Over the next six minutes Northwest started finding its scoring, but Western Nebraska continued to have an answer each time and held a 20-16 midway through the half.

The Cougars started to create separation over the next three minutes, outscoring the Trappers 7-0 to build a 27-16 advantage.

Drew Larson sank a layup to end a five minute dry spell, as Northwest trailed 27-18 with just under five minutes left in the half.

Western Nebraska did not allow Northwest to get any closer than seven, with the hosts quickly pushing the lead back out to double-digits at 34-22.

Just before the intermission, the Trappers pulled within eight at 35-27 at halftime.

Early in the second half the Trappers once again found their offense, but once again the Cougars continued to have an answer with the hosts pushing it back to a double-digit lead at 44-34 just over two minutes in.

Northwest continued to battle, pulling within six at 55-49 over the next six minutes before Western Nebraska again pushed its advantage to 11.

That theme continued once again when the Trappers cut the lead to 60-55 just past the midway point of the half.

“I don’t think we got bad shots, but there were some possessions where we didn’t execute as well and get as good of looks,” Ward said. “Then we had multiple possessions where we had decent to good looks at the basket and one of those nights where we didn’t shoot well.”

Unable to capture the momentum, the Cougars again built their lead out to the largest of the game up 12 at 76-64 with 4:37 left.

Northwest was unable to get the game down to single digits again, as the hosts finished with the 84-72 victory.

Shooting proved to be the difference in the contest, with Western Nebraska finishing 32-60 (53.3%) from the field compared to 27-66 (40.9%) from the field for Northwest. The Cougars shot 7-16 (43.8%) from 3-point range to 6-21 (28.6%) for the Trappers.

“We struggled from the field and didn’t shoot the ball very well,” Ward said. 

Colin Hayes led with 23 points for the Trappers, Preston Condie was the other player in double-figures with 11 points and led with eight rebounds.

Will Hemme led with four assists.

Western Nebraska eventually advanced to the Region IX championship game where the hosts fell 81-56 to Trinidad State (25-7) which won its third straight Region IX title.



In what has been a season filled with highs and lows, the Trappers battled from start to finish despite distractions off the court as well as injuries on the court that tested the team throughout the season.

“Our guys showed a lot of resiliency,” Ward said. “I thought they showed a lot of heart, determination and character.”

Northwest will say goodbye to three sophomores this season, with Hemme, Kolter Merritt and Milton Rodriguez Santana having used their two years of eligibility with the team.

Two additional players, Max Postiglione and Jean Carlo Villanueva, have attended Northwest academically for two years but have only used one year of playing eligibility after redshirting. Ward said the team will determine over the next weeks what is best for each player on the team academically moving forward.

“We will meet with the team and each individual and discuss what their future plans are,” Ward said.

The Trappers have 10 players eligible to return on their roster.

“Looking forward to building for next year, we will bring in several new guys and try to find the right combination with our returners,” Ward said.



Total rebounds then offensive rebounds in ()

Points — Colin Hayes 23, Preston Condie 11, Milton Rodriguez Santana 7, Will Hemme 7, Kolter Merritt 7, Isaiah Halverson 7, Drew Larson 6, Tessi Thong 4

Rebounds — Preston Condie 8 (3), Kolter Merritt 4 (2), Isaiah Halverson 3 (2), Milton Rodriguez Santana 2 (1), Will Hemme 2, Colin Hayes 2 (1), Drew Larson 1, Tessi Thong 1

Assists — Will Hemme 4, Colin Hayes 3, Tessi Thong 3, Milton Rodriguez Santana 2, Kolter Merritt 2, Drew Larson 1, Preston Condie 1

Steals — Kolter Merritt 2, Preston Condie 1

Blocks — Tessi Thong 1