|Posted February 22, 2008|
ThunderWolves keep hope alive against Highlands
By Ryan Kaufman
You're unveiling your completely renovated arena. A capacity crowd is on hand. Your playoff lives are on the line. Those are the scenarios that faced the CSU-Pueblo men's basketball team on Friday night. The Thunderwolves fed off that capacity crowd and cruised past New Mexico Highlands 83-70.
The game started off in a fairly auspicious way. A player for the Thunderwolves dunked during warm-ups which warranted a technical foul, so the home team was down 1-0 before the ball was even thrown up. To make the game even weirder, the Thunderwolves, who are third from the bottom of the conference in field goal percentage, shot 50 percent from the field in the first half.
With that kind of shot percentage, you would think the home team was up by 30 at halftime. Not so much. Stephen Shanks kept the Cowboys close by putting up 20 in the first half. The Thunderwolves headed to the locker rooms only up four. The defensive effort needed to get better. And it did.
In the second half, the Thunderwolves locked down on the defensive end. Shanks, who kept the Cowboys in the game in the first half, was a non-factor in the second. Pack Head Coach Pat Eberhart loved the defensive effort.
"I thought we guarded everything pretty good," Eberhart said. "They did not shoot a high percentage and we limited them to one shot on most occasions. The kids just stepped up on the defensive end."
The kids stepped up on the offensive end too. Jake Trahern, who had just eight points in the first half, exploded in the second. The Thunderwolves big man scored 16 points in the second, 10 of them by way of a few dunks. Trahern's slams set Massari Arena off. The crowd was going nuts for the last ten minutes of the game as the Thunderwolves pulled away to a 13-point win.
"We were kinda just going back and forth," said Coach Eberhart. "When the crowd got into the game, our intensity level raised. So from there on out it carried us through."
What also carried the Thunderwolves through the second half was the play of three players in particular - Rome Smith, Chris Childress, and the aforementioned Trahern. All three guys scored over 20 points for the Pack. In Childress' and Trahern's case, they added double-digit rebounds to their stat lines as well.
"We would love to have that every single night," Coach E said about having two players notching double-doubles. "For both those guys to get 20 and 10 would be an awesome thing."
The awesome thing for the Thunderwolves is that their playoff hopes are still alive. If Regis and Western State lose their regular season finales Saturday against Fort Lewis and Chadron State, respectively, and CSU-Pueblo wins theirs, the Thunderwolves are headed to the RMAC Tournament. The Pack will try to keep their end of the bargain Saturday night in Massari Arena at 8 p.m..