It was one of those games where there was a better chance of divining the mysteries of the universe than figuring out what went wrong.
The situation was ripe for success, yet the Northwest men’s basketball team did everything possible to sabotage it.
This erratic court behavior led to a 68-55 loss to Central Wyoming last week at Cabre Gym in the Trappers’ final home game of the season.
Northwest did not execute its offense well, shot 34 percent from the floor, committed 25 turnovers and despite one hope-giving flurry for the fans, was barely ever in the game.
Coach Brian Erickson appeared to need a pain reliever after the loss.
“No energy,” he said. “No intensity. We didn’t play hard.”
There was limited good-news analysis. Forward Sukhjot Bains scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But there was also one stretch when it appeared the Trappers were poised to manufacture a miracle.
With about eight minutes gone in the second half, after playing perhaps its most embarrassing stretch of basketball this season, Northwest trailed 50-27.
Whether it was the coach pleading or yelling, or somewhere flipping a switch, suddenly the Trappers looked like their best selves, not their worst.
In less than two-and-a-half minutes, Northwest knocked down four 3-point jumpers, two from guard Skyler Zabriskie, one from Bains and one from guard Jonathan Koud.
Bains, Koud and center Levi Londale buckets followed and the lead was trimmed to 50-44. Fans were screaming and jumping up and down.
As expected, Central did score again, but again the Trappers trimmed the margin to six, with the ball and taking a three-point shot. The shot did not fall and the Rustlers spiked the miracle.
“I thought we were going to get it for sure,” said Zabriskie, who scored 8 points. “There was no doubt in my mind.”
On Feb. 8, Northwest bested Sheridan 101-100 in triple overtime. The rematch was quite different.
Northwest shot just 30.4 percent. Guard Blake Hinze (11 points), Bains (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Londale (11 rebounds) were the main contributors in the 69-59 loss.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” Erickson said. “It was a pretty ugly game.”
Now the 18-12 Trappers go right back to 19-11 Sheridan on March 4 for a Region IX playoff game.
“It’s stopping a run and making your own run,” Erickson said of how Northwest can beat Sheridan in the teams’ third meeting. “We just never did it.”
(Lew Freedman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)