No comfort zone in K.C.; Warrior men again unable to
establish any rhythm at nationals, dismissed with
By MATT BANEY
OF THE TRIBUNE
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It should be remembered that, during
their two years together at Lewis-Clark State, the team's
six core players vaulted from one breathtaking plateau to
the next. They opened their new arena stylishly, became the
kingpins of the Frontier Conference and gobbled up a long
string of wins.
But the Midwest forever perplexed them. Here, in two
appearances in the NAIA Division I national basketball
tournament, the Warriors went 1-2 -- and never found their
The finest two-year stretch in L-C history came to an end
with a 79-71 loss to 16th-seeded Trevecca Nazarene at the
Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday afternoon. The first-round
elimination caps the 17th-seeded Warriors' season at 25-9,
and makes them 56-15 since fall of 2003.
Two of LCSC's usual strengths -- outside shooting and
defense -- went AWOL in this contest. The Warriors made 6 of
25 3-pointers and let their opponent from Nashville, Tenn.,
fire at a 51.9-percent clip.
"Hey, these are the top 32 teams in the nation," said
forward Martin Brothers, one of L-C's five seniors. "So it's
not like we're losing to some cupcakes. We played hard,
everybody gave it all they had -- we just didn't have enough
The Warriors' best stretch came in the first four
minutes, when they bolted to an 8-2 lead.
But the Trojans eventually found their footing. With
freshman guard Alex Renfroe popping in nine first-half
points, Trevecca blotted out L-C's early advantage. Then
Josh Helton, another frosh, planted a 3-pointer to put the
Trojans up 33-30 at halftime.
Trevecca opened the second half by slowly building a
10-point lead. Over the final 10 minutes, the Warriors
forged a number of pseudo-comebacks, but never got closer
than three points.
Brothers, who scored a game-high 21 points, was the axis
of L-C's second-half effort. During one juncture, he scored
three consecutive baskets while being fouled (but only
completed the three-point play on one of them).
"I didn't want to end my senior year not trying hard
enough," Brothers said. "I wanted to feel exhausted after
the game. If we were going to win, I knew I had tomorrow to
rest. And if we were going to lose, I knew I was going to
leave it on the floor like you're supposed to."
The one glaring deficiency in the Trojans' performance
was their free throw shooting. They went 17-for-35 at the
line -- which included a 6-for-14 showing in the final
So this could have been a photo finish. Justin Fraser's
top-of-the-key 3-point attempt, which would have cut the
margin to two, rattled out with about 20 seconds left.
Trevecca's three big men -- Wesley Poe, Eric Price and
Collins Onyando -- combined for just 25 points. And all of
them finished the game on the bench: Price and Onyando
fouled out, and Poe picked up two technicals.
The unlikely hero was Renfroe, a string-bean guard who is
more rugged than he appears. The 6-1 Renfroe -- who became a
starter late in the season when leading scorer Brandon
Howard was injured -- scored 19 points, passed for seven
assists, made four steals and (most remarkably) ripped down
"Alex Renfroe was tremendous tonight," Trevecca coach Sam
Harris said. "How could you expect a freshman point guard to
produce a double-double for you?"
Besides Brothers' flourish, John Moore tossed in 15
points, which included two spectacular dunks off lobs from
Danny Allen. But no one else hit double digits, including
Allen, L-C's leading scorer. He went 1-for-9 and finished
with six points.
Trevecca's sticky matchup zone certainly had something to
do with the Warriors' struggles. But that wasn't the only
"There are six or seven different offenses that we can
run against the zone," L-C coach George Pfeifer said, "and
every time we went to a new one, we got open looks at the
basket. ... If we make some of those shots, now all of a
sudden at the end of the game, maybe we're ahead one or two.
But we don't make those."
TREVECCA NAZARENE (25-7)
Poe 6-8 1-2 13, Price 4-7 1-5 9, Helton 3-7 4-8 12, Perry
5-10 1-4 14, Renfroe 5-10 9-12 19, Salvi 4-8 0-2 9, Pardue 0
0-0 0, Onyando 1 1-2 3. Totals 28-54 17-35 79.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (25-9)
Moore 6-10 2-3 15, Brothers 8-10 5-9 21, Pitts 1-3 0-2 2,
Allen 1-9 4-4 6, Bishop 1-2 2-2 4, Ray 2-7 0-0 5, Fraser 3-5
0-0 9, Wilson 1-4 0-0 3, Idoko 1-1 0-0 2, Tikker 2-5 0-0 4.
Totals 26-56 13-21 71.
Halftime score -- TNU 33, LCSC 30. Three-point goals --
TNU 6-20 (Helton 2-6, Perry 3-7, Renfroe 0-3, Salvi 1-4);
LCSC 6-25 (Moore 1-1, Allen 0-6, Bishop 0-1, Ray 1-6, Fraser
3-5, Wilson 1-4, Tikker 0-2). Rebounds -- TNU 40 (Renfroe
14); LCSC 31 (Brothers 7). Assists -- TNU 12 (Renfroe 7);
LCSC 12 (Allen 6). Total fouls -- TNU 22; LCSC 27. Technical
fouls -- Poe 2, Allen. Fouled out -- Poe, Price, Onyando,