Fall 81-39 to Lady T-Birds In Region IX Play-In Game
After a thrilling overtime win to close out the regular season, the Northwest College women’s basketball team had hoped to carry a little momentum into Friday’s Region IX play-n game against top-ranked Casper.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” said NWC head coach Camden Levett. “But with a great win in our final home game, and with all this team has been through, you never know what might happen.”
Unfortunately for the Lady Trappers (4-26, 2-12 in Region IX North), any chance at extending their season would mean knocking off the Lady T-Birds (25-6, 13-1) on their home court — a feat only one other team has accomplished this season. Casper got off to a quick start and kept its foot on the gas, exploding for 46 points in the first half en route to a dominating 81-39 win.
“Casper was the No. 1 team in the region, and we were the eighth seed, and we had to go to their place, which wasn’t where we wanted to go,” Levett said. “But it’s kind of the way the dominoes fell; we put ourselves in that situation. We came out in man-to-man and weren’t ready to go. We haven’t matched up well against them all year, they’re big and physical. Give them credit, they made all the shots.”
The Lady Trappers were more competitive in the second half, as the team realized it was the final 20 minutes of the season. Each player logged significant minutes, and Levett said they made them count.
“We talked at half about taking pride and going out and competing the rest of the game, and I think we did that,” he said. “We had some girls step up and play hard. I was proud of the effort in the second half. I saw some things from our freshmen I liked, some bright spots.”
For the Lady T-Birds, it meant solidifying their second straight Region IX North title; for Northwest, it was the end of a frustrating season.
“It was a pretty quiet bus ride home,” Levett said. “The season went the way it went, but I don’t think any of us were ready for it to be over.”
NWC sophomore Kaylee Brown scored a team-high nine points and dished off three assists in her final game in Trapper red.
“The game kind of just got away from us,” Brown said. “They were hitting every shot they took and we just fell short. Even though they beat us pretty soundly I was really proud because we kept fighting and I think that is basically the story of our season this year — we kept fighting.”
Freshman Melissa Martinez hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with seven points, while fellow freshman Mikkel McIntosh of Lovell scored six points off the bench, to go along with a team-high four rebounds.
“Mikkel McIntosh came in and really took care of the ball, she played hard,” Levett said. “When we were kind of hanging our heads from them getting up on us early, she came in and gave us a little spark. I’m proud of her for doing that.”
Selena Cudney netted five points in the contest, while Tayler Groll chipped in four. Jenna Lohrenz and Berkley Larsen finished with three points apiece.
It was a rough night of shooting for Northwest, who hit on just 11-of-53 shots from the floor for a dismal 20 percent; Casper countered with 30-of-55 for 54 percent. The Lady Trappers were outrebounded 48-24.
Through the entire, trying season, Levett said the team never lost their composure, and always played hard, regardless of the circumstances.
“I give them all the credit. The way the year went, they never got down on themselves,” he said. “They knew we were in a lot of games that could have gone either way, but it just wasn’t our year. For them to stick together like they did made it an enjoyable year. They learned a lot, I learned a lot.”
With the offseason just beginning, Levett’s future at the helm of the program is uncertain.
“Stepping into a head coaching role as an interim, that gave me a good opportunity to do a 10-month, on-the-job interview — that’s how I looked at it,” he said. “I think our record stings me more than a lot of other people, but it drives me as well. I know how hard these girls work, so I want to work just as hard and flip that record around next year, if they’ll have me back.”
Levett’s put his name in for consideration and is excited for what the future holds for the Lady Trappers.
“With so many freshmen, that’s a good sign moving forward,” he said. “They logged a lot of minutes, and I think they know what it takes to win and how much harder we have to work next year. I’m hoping to have the band back together next year.”
Levett has also been busy recruiting for next season, with three players giving verbal commitments and one already signed: Greybull’s Kendall Wright, just named the 2A Northwest Player of the Year and an All-State selection for the second straight season.
“She [Wright] will be a good guard for us, that’s for sure,” Levett said, adding, “I’m hoping we hit a few home runs with recruits, get a few pieces we need help with.”
Regardless of what the future holds, Levett said he was grateful for the opportunity, and that it’s hard to see the season end.
Even harder is saying goodbye to his “great group” of sophomores: Brown, Tayla Sayer, Shelby Wardell and Samantha McCrorey were instrumental in helping Levett transition into his role as head coach, and for that he’ll be forever grateful.
“They adapted to the coaching change, they embraced it and they were ready to work,” Levett said. “They were leaders on and off the court. They took the freshmen under their wings and showed them what it meant to be a Lady Trapper.”