Lancer men advance in Region IX playoffs

Tyler Martineau

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) men’s basketball team relied on aggressive defense at home to beat Northwest College in the first round of the Region IX playoffs on Saturday, 99-85.

The Lancers came into the postseason with three straight losses after a 94-90 win against the Trappers on Feb. 9.

After Northwest scored the first two baskets of the game, EWC rattled off 13 straight points including seven from sophomore Nikolas Gustavson.

Lancers head coach Tom Andersen said his team has played well this season when getting off to a good start early in games.

“I think that we got some stops defensively to get a little bit of lead,” Andersen said. “There’s been a few games we’ve been playing from behind and I think we’re a lot better playing from the lead.”

Despite a Trapper run to limit EWC’s lead to 16-9, the Lancers kept up the pressure offensively with a dunk from sophomore Kayden Toldson off a backdoor cut.

Along with EWC’s aggressive defense in the first half their lead was solidified by Northwest’s early foul trouble. The Trappers leading scorer, freshman Juan Pablo Camargo, who scored 24 points in the previous meeting between the two teams, provided little help offensively due to committing four fouls in the first half.

Sophomore Alex Pena Avila stepped up for Northwest to keep the game close with 13 points in the first half.

Andersen said Camargo’s foul trouble took away the need to double him for most of the game.

“He’s a big kid, he’s talented and he had a couple unfortunate fouls that he maybe shouldn’t have got, but he’s a good player, he’ll be back,” Andersen said.

For the Lancers, Gustavson led the team with 15 points in the first half by scoring from almost every spot on the court. Sophomore Tom Mark helped out with eight points including a dunk late in the half off of a baseline cut.

The Lancers were able to hold off a 10-5 run from the Trappers and took a 46-40 lead into the second half.

Northwest kept the game close early in the second half, but sophomore guard Quincy Taylor nailed a corner three at the 15:30 mark to keep the Lancer lead at six points.

Shortly after Toldson drew a charging foul on the defensive end, Gustavson made a corner three of his own to push the lead to 63-54.

EWC managed to keep up the aggressive defense in the second half which led to more success on the other side of the court.

“We got out and got some good brakes and got some kids to look up the court good and some kids that can run and we maybe threw a couple of them way, but we scored on most of them,” Andersen said.

The Lancers lead reached 17 points with 10:20 to go as Gustavson hit a step back three to go up 75-68.

Northwest’s attempt to come back, which included another six points from Avila and a pair of threes from freshman Zane Langrehr, was short lived as Gustavson’s fadeaway for two with 3:29 helped to maintain EWC’s double digit lead.

The Lancers dribbled out the clock to maintain the 14-point lead and head to the second round of the playoffs.

Gustavson ended the day with a season high 27 points. Taylor was second on the team in scoring with 20 points, while Mark had 19 and Toldson had 15. 

The Lancers will head to La Junta, Colorado, to face the number one seed in the South, Otero Junior College (22-6), on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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