The Northwest College basketball teams struggled on the road last week with each dropping a pair of contests.
The shorthanded Trapper men started the week with a 84-53 loss to Sheridan College before losing a closer 82-67 match to Gillette College.
Coach Dawud Abdur-Rahkman said the team is fighting through a rash of injuries and illnesses that are starting to take its toll on the court.
“More than anything we need to be healthy because we can tell the defense is just not focused on our guards anymore,” Abdur-Rahkman said.
The Trappers went without captain Reme Torbert and fellow guard Kyle Brown most of last week. Abdur-Rahkman said these absences took away the team’s three-point threat and allowed the defense to shift its focus on weaker players. Down low, 7-foot Axel Okongo was also gone from the lineup.
“When you’ve (got) two bullets in the gun you’re limited,” Abdur-Rahkman said.
He said the No. 8 NJCAA team in the country, Sheridan, was able to exploit the Trapper’s weaknesses, challenging them to hit shots from deep.
“I don’t think our guys were ready for the intensity a team like that brings to the court,” Abdur-Rahkman said. “We’re going to get open shots, we have to make open shots.”
The Trappers shot 29 percent from the field in the game and 16 percent from three. They were also outrebounded 53-29.
Lagio Grantsaan led the team with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Northwest played closer with Gillette on Saturday but still trailed by 11 at halftime. Mental mistakes proved to be the Trappers’ bane as Gillette scored 21 points off turnovers and committed seven fewer turnovers in the game.
Abdur-Rahkman said missing Torbert and Brown’s leadership was the biggest factor behind the miscues.
“When those two guards are out (the players) suffer,”Abdur-Rahkman said.
Depth increasingly becomes an issue when a team’s bench players don’t contribute. The Pronghorns bench outscored Northwest’s 22-5 on Saturday.
“Hopefully with guys out it shifts the focus on the bench guys to step up,” Abdur-Rahkman said.
The Northwest College women’s basketball team played neck and neck with Sheridan College on Feb. 6 but was not able to hang on with one of Region IX’s best teams, losing 50-45.
Behind a seven-point, seven-rebound performance from Jenna Lohrenz, the Trappers were able to get off to a hot start, taking a 16-9 lead after the first quarter and four point lead into the half.
But in the second half Northwest started to falter as it lost the lead and eventually the game, despite holding the Generals to 20 percent from three.
Berkley Larsen chipped in eight points and five rebounds in the game.
On Saturday Northwest was a bit less competitive falling 71-53 to Gillette College. Kaylee Brown led the Trappers with 10 points and six rebounds while Tayler Groll had 12 points and 4 rebounds.
Northwest played close in the first, only down three, but by halftime Gillette broke the game open taking a 10-point lead into intermission.
The second half was more of the same as the Generals pushed their lead to 19.
Defense proved to make the difference in the contest as Sheridan shot 45 percent from the field.
Coach Camden Levett did not respond to request for comment about the games.