WARRIOR MEN; Less--than-pretty victory sits just fine
In George Pfeifer's experience, there is no such thing as an ugly win this late in the season.
So as far as the Lewis-Clark State College men's basketball coach was concerned, Saturday's 63-57 Frontier Conference triumph over Great Falls was a thing of beauty.
"At this juncture in the season, it's all about winning games and losing games," said Pfeifer, whose team improved to 7-0 at L-C's new Athletic Center. The Warriors are now 21-7 overall and 9-3 in FC play, while Great Falls dips to 5-24 and 2-11.
Saturday's contest served as Senior Night for the Warriors, who will bid farewell to five players -- Danny Allen, Joey Ray, Skyler Wilson, James Idoko and Martin Brothers -- at the end of the season.
On this night, the team's shortest-tenured senior left the most lasting impression. Skyler Wilson drained 4 of 6 3-pointers, including a trio of momentum-swinging bombs in the second half, and finished with 18 points to lead the Warriors in scoring.
But to hear Wilson tell the story, he didn't do it all by himself. If not for Allen's abilities to penetrate and Brothers' prowess in the paint, he said his efforts wouldn't have been made possible.
"It's kind of pick-your-poison for other teams," Wilson added. "I was fortunate enough to get open shots and tonight I knocked them down."
L-C's margin of victory would have been slightly greater if not for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Great Falls' Hanif Pollock. But the win most certainly didn't come easy.
A fairly flat first half on L-C's part enabled the visiting Argos to take a 28-26 advantage into halftime, despite the fact they suited up just seven players (two others were suspended for disciplinary reasons, and another stayed home sick).
Pfeifer would later label much of his team's first-half performance "inept."
"We looked for awhile like we were in six inches of water," he said.
The lapse apparently wore off during the break. L-C surged ahead on a deep 3-pointer by Ray, and Allen stroker a long jumper shortly thereafter.
After a Great Falls 3-pointer at the other end, Wilson and Allen buried treys and Brothers hit a pair of foul shots to put the Warriors ahead 36-31.
Undeterred, Great Falls battled back to take a 41-39 lead. But the Warriors got a free throw from Wilson and a five consecutive points from Justin Fraser to go up 45-41 with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.
When Great Falls closed the gap to 45-44, Wilson tossed in another 3-pointer, and L-C proceeded to outscore the Argos 11-2 over the next 3 1/2 minutes.
Great Falls sliced the lead the 56-49 with a 3-pointer from Anthony Owens, but Wilson responded in kind, and the Argos would get no closer than eight points until Pollock's shot at the buzzer.
Great Falls, which received 13 points from Rico Suazo and 11 from Pollock, had one player foul out and two more who finished with four personals apiece.
But Argos coach Antonio Veloso said his team's lack of numbers wasn't the deciding factor.
"We came out and played hard, kept it close," he said. "But in the end, Skyler had a good night.
"You come in here thinking you have to stop Brothers and Allen, and then they have so many other guys who can step up."
NOTES -- L-C played without Idoko, who was nursing a sore knee. ... The Warriors finished with a 15-1 home record this season. L-C went 51-2 at home during Idoko's three-year career and was 35-1 at home during its two seasons with Allen, Brothers and Ray.
GREAT FALLS (5-24, 2-11)
Suazo 5-6 3-4 13, Chapman 3-9 0-0 7, Owens 3-6 0-0 8, Geniesse 2-5 0-0 5, Polee 2-8 2-2 6, Tomlinson 3-8 1-2 7, Pollock 4-12 1-1 11. Totals 22-54 7-9 57.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (21-7, 9-3)
Wilson 4-7 6-8 18, Brothers 3-5 2-4 8, Pitts 3-7 1-2 7, Allen 3-9 3-5 10, Fraser 2-4 2-2 8, Bishop 0-1 0-0 0, Moore 1-5 0-0 2, Ray 2-4 0-0 6, Orr 0-0 0-0 0, Tikker 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 20-47 14-21 63.
Halftime score -- Great Falls 28, Lewis-Clark State 26. Three-point goals -- Great Falls 6-18 (Chapman 1-3, Owens 2-4, Geniesee 1-2, Polee 2-8, Tomlinson 0-4, Pollock 2-2), L-C 9-17 (Wilson 4-6, Allen 1-4, Fraser 2-3, Ray 2-4). Rebounds -- Great Falls 33 (Owens 8), L-C 30 (Brothers 9, Pitts 9). Assists -- Great Falls 6 (Owens 2, Geniesse 2), L-C 4 (Allen 2). Total fouls -- Great Falls 21, L-C 12. Fouled out -- Polee. Technical fouls -- none. Att -- n/a.
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