On Thursday night at Warrior Gym, the Lewis-Clark State men toppled Rocky Mountain, a team that (1) had won seven straight, (2) had snapped the Warriors' lengthy victory spree back in January and (3) has a coach who works the sidelines like a hula dancer.
It certainly seemed like a win worth celebrating.
But the L-C coaches and players were largely subdued after their 90-86 decision over the Frontier Conference-leading Bears. The reason? The Warriors have a number of similar wars looming on their schedule, including Saturday's contest with Carroll.
"It wasn't like we were all giddy and jumping up and down in the locker room," LCSC coach George Pfeifer said. "I think our kids understand that we did what we were supposed to tonight, in our minds. And now we have to make sure we don't let down in what we need to do Saturday night."
The 16th-ranked Warriors (23-5, 7-3) now stand one game behind RMC and Westminster, who are tied for first. L-C also improved to 16-0 at Warrior Gym.
The Warriors led almost the entire game, jumping ahead by nine early on and by 15 with six minutes left.
The Bears' comeback was a frantic thing, as they squeezed a 16-4 run into a 3 1/2-minute stretch. The blitz culminated with Jake Stuart's 3-pointer, making it 77-71 with 2:30 left.
On LCSC's ensuing possession, guard Joey Ray was trapped on the sideline by the RMC defense. With no one open, Ray tried to throw the ball off a defender's leg, but the Bear snagged Ray's toss and headed off on a breakaway.
The Warriors, however, were awarded a timeout, which Pfeifer began requesting when Ray got in trouble. This sent RMC coach Bill Dreikosen -- an energetic sideline performer -- into his most dazzling protest of the night.
"I can understand if I was on the other bench that I would be frustrated. I would be," Pfeifer said. "But it was the right call ... because we had called timeout in plenty of time. And (the official) was, for some reason, delayed in (blowing) the whistle."
After the timeout, L-C guard Ricky Frazier made a zippy drive through the paint, drew the defense, then fired a pass to Ray. The junior bottomed out an open 3-pointer from the left elbow, putting the Warriors up by nine.
In the final minute of the game, LCSC held off the Bears with an 8-for-10 showing at the line.
Junior forward Martin Brothers, who cracked the starting lineup in L-C's previous game, recorded a game-high 26 points and 14 rebounds. His board total included nine on the offensive end.
The teams combined for 41 offensive rebounds -- 21 by the Warriors and 20 by the Bears.
"It was a Dennis Rodman-type of game," Pfeifer said. "... As much as we didn't want them to get that many offensive rebounds, I do think it's one of the key stats tonight -- the fact that we garnered 21 and stayed the pace with it."
Although the Warriors were quick to turn their attention to the next game against Carroll, Pfeifer stopped for a moment to savor this victory.
"If you think about it, the toughest thing about tonight was Rocky had won seven in a row coming in here. Just like we had won 11 in a row going into their joint.
"To take somebody into the ring -- to use a boxing analogy -- and win the fight with somebody who had that kind of swagger and that kind of momentum ... I think that's a good testament to our kids."
NOTES -- Dreikosen's theatrics drew sniping remarks from the crowd, especially from a group sitting behind the north basket. After the controversial timeout call, Dreikosen flashed a thumbs-up sign to that part of the audience. The third-year coach seemed to have a sense of humor about the situation. "Well, you've got to," Dreikosen said. "Life is short, and you've got to play hard and pray hard. They're good fans, and as long as they don't say anything dirty, that's all I care about. ... You want that when you go into another environment -- that's part of the atmosphere. You've got to thrive on that."
ROCKY MOUNTAIN (16-8, 7-2)
Waldo 2-3 0-2 4, Kunkel 10-19 3-4 23, Stack 2-6 1-1 6, Wood 6-15 4-4 19, Stuart 8-15 2-2 20, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Tollefson 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 5-15 2-2 12, Cook 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 34-76 12-15 86.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (23-5, 7-3)
Idoko 1-7 2-6 4, Brothers 9-14 8-11 26, Endsley 4-8 2-2 11, Trombley 3-6 2-2 8, Allen 4-7 0-0 10, Ray 7-13 2-3 21, Frazier 2-7 3-4 8, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Ball 1-2 0-0 2, Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Pitts 0-0 0-0 0, Tikker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 19-28 90.
Halftime score -- LCSC 34, RMC 32. Three-point goals -- RMC 6-20 (Kunkel 0-1, Stack 1-1, Wood 3-10, Stuart 2-5, Miller 0-1, Coleman 0-2); LCSC 9-19 (Endsley 1-2, Allen 2-3, Ray 5-10, Frazier 1-3, Ball 0-1). Rebounds -- RMC 36 (Kunkel 11); LCSC 44 (Brothers 14). Assists -- RMC 15 (Stack 6); LCSC 15 (Allen 7). Total fouls -- RMC 23; LCSC 13. Fouled out -- Waldo, Stuart. Technical fouls -- none.