Warrior men defend their turf, trip No. 11 Providence

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Warriors forward Trystan Bradley started out behind the 8-ball — at least 4 feet behind a streaking Argos player trying to score the game-tying layin.

But Bradley hustled back to prevent that with a block — and unlike Providence’s ballhandler on that transition play, the Lewis-Clark State men’s basketball team didn’t get caught from behind.

Bradley finished with three blocks to go with 18 points and the No. 5 Warriors preserved their slim margin late on Thursday night at the Activity Center to beat the No. 11 Argos 96-87 in a Frontier Conference game.

“I just knew in my head that, ‘If he makes this, it’s a tie game,’” Bradley said, “and I did everything in my power to block it and got there.”

Shortly after Bradley’s block with 4:00 left in the game, the Warriors pushed the ball upcourt, where Damek Mitchell found Josiah Westbrook trailing for a 3-pointer that gave the hosts an 83-78 lead. Westbrook finished with a team-high 24 points for LCSC.

“We’ve got this thing we’ve been doing since high school where he pitches it back,” said Westbrook, who played with Mitchell at Squalicum High of Bellingham, Wash. “He’s just a great point guard.”

Another great guard, Providence’s Zaccheus Darko-Kelly, finished with a game-high 36 points but fouled out with 2:06 left when L-C’s Travis Yenor took a charge.

The Warriors led by five at that point and still held that advantage a minute later when the Argos were forced to go to their foul game. L-C (24-1, 12-1 FC) sewed up the contest at the foul line.

“That’s the kind of pain you like,” Yenor said of the second of two charges he took with four fouls. “I was just in my gap, in my position, and you can just kind of sense whether (Darko-Kelly’s) going to stop and pop or go to the hole, and I just stood there and took it.”

Darko-Kelly’s fourth foul came with 3:26 left when he fouled Westbrook on a 3. Westbrook went 2-for-3 at the line on that trip to make it 85-80 L-C.

Mitchell scored 17 for L-C and went on a personal 5-0 run shortly after Jake Albright scored the go-ahead bucket on an inbounds play with 10:30 left. Both of Mitchell’s shots during that skein were jumpers he set up with pump fakes.

“There’s not a lot of people at any level of basketball in the country that would have the guts to step in and take a charge when they have four fouls,” said Warriors coach Austin Johnson, speaking of Yenor. “But that shows you his awareness and his toughness right there — and then Trystan’s chase-down block — those things define us.

“We made 14 3s and scored 90-some points, but those two plays right there define who we’ve been, who we are and who we want to be.”

The Warriors weren’t the only team to get hot from the outside. The Argos (20-5, 8-5) hit nine 3-pointers, seven of them in the first half, which the visitors from Great Falls, Mont., finished leading by seven.

Trailing by five two minutes into the second half, L-C went on a 14-4 run — with Bradley and Mitchell combining for 11 of those points.

PROVIDENCE (20-5, 8-5)

Darko-Kelly 12-23 9-9 36, Cotton 9-15 0-1 21, Hashley 9-13 2-3 21, Fowler 1-4 1-2 3, Stocks 1-5 0-0 3, Wetzel 1-3 0-0 3, Thabize 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 33-64 12-15 87.

LEWIS-CLARK STATE (24-1, 12-1)

Westbrook 7-11 5-7 24, Bradley 6-10 4-4 18, Mitchell 6-12 3-3 17, Bailey 3-8 5-5 13, Yenor 3-6 4-6 11, Hughes 2-5 0-1 6, Albright 2-2 1-1 5, Stevenson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 30-55 22-26 96.

Halftime — Providence, 54-47. 3-point goals — Providence 9-23 (Cotton 3-6, Darko-Kelly 3-7, Hashley 1-3, Stocks 1-3, Wetzel 1-3, Fowler 0-1), Lewis-Clark State 14-32 (Westbrook 5-8, Bradley 2-5, Bailey 2-5, Hughes 2-5, Mitchell 2-6, Yenor 1-3). Fouled out — Darko-Kelly, Albright. Rebounds — Providence 29 (Hashley 11), Lewis-Clark State 31 (Yenor 9). Assists — Providence 18 (Darko-Kelly, Cotton 5), Lewis-Clark State 24 (Mitchell 10). Total fouls — Providence 22, Lewis-Clark State 18. Technical — Albright. A — N/A.

Edelman may be contacted at bedelman@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2277.

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