Northwest College men’s basketball coach Jay Collins was hoping for more than one Region IX win in the 2021 regular season — but that’s all in the rearview. All season, the …
Northwest College men’s basketball coach Jay Collins was hoping for more than one Region IX win in the 2021 regular season — but that’s all in the rearview. All season, the coach’s mantra has been simple: win in April.
The Trappers wrapped up the regular season last week, falling 67-59 to Eastern Wyoming at home Wednesday, March 24 and 105-89 to Casper on Saturday. Following the back-to-back losses, NWC is 7-13 overall and 1-9 in region play.
Though Northwest was unable to steal a game from Casper or Eastern, Collins was particularly pleased with the effort against the Lancers, one of Region IX’s premier teams.
The Trappers kept within 15 points for the entirety of the game, seeing valuable contributions from all eight players. Every starter scored at least eight points, and sophomore Jerome Mabry led with 15.
This effort was much improved from NWC’s first meeting against EWC, when the Lancers sailed to a 79-55 win on March 6.
“I think we were locked in,” Collins said. “We did a good job of preaching what we have all year — taking good shots and forcing contested ones for them.”
Against Casper, Northwest’s problem was similar to several of its other losses: one good half, one bad half.
The Trappers struggled out of the gate, allowing 61 points in the first half and trailing by 19 at the break. But in the final 20 minutes, they outscored the Thunderbirds 47-44, shooting near 50% from the field.
This time, Jacob Schilder was the leading offensive player in a performance Collins described as “gutty.” His 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting — including seven 3-pointers — were the most of any Trapper off the bench this season.
Northwest’s Region IX record isn’t indicative of how competitive the Trappers have been. Only one of their nine losses have come by more than 20 points, and the margin of five was single digits.
“We’ve been in every game,” Collins said. “We really haven’t gotten blown out, and I think we’re in good shape heading into the tournament.”
NWC plays its first postseason game Friday on the road against Western Wyoming. The Trappers are 0-2 against the Mustangs this year, losing both contests by seven points. In the two meetings, NWC played one exceptional half and one dismal half — just like its recent defeat to Casper.
With Jaren Fritz and Hayden Peterson now fully recovered from their minor injuries, the team is eight deep as it enters the tournament. After playing with seven men in several of their last games of the regular season, having even just one more body helps the Trappers’ chances.
“I think we’re in a lucky situation,” Collins said. “We’re a little deeper and should be able to start a little faster. It’s huge.”
Eastern Wyoming 67, Northwest 59
Points — Jerome Mabry 15, Hayden Peterson 9, Seyi Oyeku 9, Jaren Fritz 9, Gabriel Gutierrez 8, Andre Loigu 4, Jacob Schilder 3, Jahquel Goss 2;
Rebounds — Mabry 12, Gutierrez 9, Oyeku 9, Peterson 1
Casper 105, Northwest 89
Points — Schilder 30, Mabry 20, Gutierrez 13, Loigu 10, Oyeku 8, Goss 6, Fritz 2;
Rebounds — Gutierrez 6, Mabry 6, Oyeku 4, Fritz 2, Schilder 1, Loigu 1