This Week in Warrior Athletics: Basketball wraps up regular season
Men’s baseball – at University of Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 5 p.m.; vs. Gonzaga, Sunday, March 2, 2 p.m., Harris Field.
LCSC Warrior Watch, 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, KLEW-TV. This week's guests are James Rooney, Kaylan Crane, and Karl Stedman.
Women’s basketball – at Carroll College 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Helena, Mont.; at Rocky Mountain, 1 p.m., Saturday, March 1, Billings, Mont.
Men’s basketball – at Carroll College 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Helena, Mont.; at Rocky Mountain, 3 p.m., Saturday, March 1, Billings, Mont.
Men’s tennis – vs. Alberta, 8 a.m., Friday, Feb. 29, LCSC Tennis Center; vs. Alberta, 8 a.m., Saturday, March 1, LCSC Tennis Center.
Women’s tennis – Region I round-robin tournament, Thursday, Feb. 28-Sunday, March 2, at LCSC Tennis Center: Thursday, Feb. 28 – Southern Oregon vs. Alberta, 7 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 29 – LCSC vs. Southern Oregon, noon; LCSC vs. Alberta, 4 p.m., Southern Oregon vs. College of Idaho, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1 – College of Idaho vs. Alberta, noon. Sunday, March 2 – LCSC vs. College of Idaho, 9:30 a.m.; LCSC vs. Eastern Washington, 2 p.m. (not part of tournament).
Holding on to a one-game lead in the Frontier Conference standings, Lewis-Clark State College finds its bid for a third straight conference regular-season title runs through Helena, Mont., and Carroll College.
The two NAIA powers collide Thursday night for the second time this season and this contest will likely decide the conference championship. At 11-1, LCSC leads the conference by a game over Carroll, 10-2, and two games over Westminster, 9-3. A win Thursday by LCSC would wrap up the regular-season title and give the Warriors the top seed in the conference tournament, which is March 5-8 in Butte, Mont.
If Carroll, however, should win, both LCSC and Carroll would be 11-2 and could win up tied in the conference standings. If that’s the case, Carroll currently owns the tiebreaking edge and would be the top seed for the tournament.
Westminster still has a shot for the title as well, but it must sweep both Carroll and Rocky Mountain, and then have Carroll and Rocky Mountain defeat LCSC. If that happens, LCSC, Carroll and Westminster will finish in a three-way tie for the top spot. In that scenario, the three tied teams went 1-1 in head to head competition and the next tiebreaker is how they all compare against the next team in the standings. LCSC’s other loss would be to Rocky Mountain, Carroll has lost to MSU-Northern and Westminster’s loss is to Montana Western. Rocky, MSU-Northern and Montana Western are all tied for fourth place in the conference at 4-8.
The Warriors take a four-game win streak to Carroll and are coming off the best two-game homestand of the season. LCSC defeated both Montana Western and Montana Tech by an average of 27 points, thanks to both a swarming defense that forced plenty of turnovers and its usual balanced offensive attack, which featured six players in double figures in Saturday’s win over Western.
LCSC continues to be among the NAIA national leaders in several categories, including being No. 2 in scoring margin. LCSC is outscoring opponents by an average of 24.4 points per game. LCSC also is second in turnover margin, forcing 9.7 more turnovers than it commits per game.
The Warriors stand fourth in assists (18.6), scoring defense (54.7), and steals (14.5) per game, while being fifth in rebounding margin (8.1). LCSC is sixth in assist/turnover ratio, and is 10th in scoring, averaging 79.1 points per game.
Individually, Kim Preston is 10th in the country in assist/turnover ration at 2.3, while Jade Fulbright is 12th in steals per game at 3.1. Fulbright now has 327 steals in her career, which is second behind all-time leader Amanda Campbell’s mark of 346.Fellow senior guard Katie Hart has 563 career assists, while only trails Brianne Kottwitz’s all-time mark of 607.
Senior post Mandy Troutt is one of four Warriors averaging in double-figures scoring. She is hitting for 12.6 points per game, while Sadie Short is at 11.5 points. Fulbright is averaging 11.3 points, followed by Breianna Gaines at 10.5 points.
Troutt also leads the team in rebounding at 7.2 per outing, while Short is at 6.7.
LCSC defeated Carroll 90-87 earlier this year at home. The 87 points is the most allowed by LCSC this season.
Frontier Conference standings – Lewis-Clark State 11-1, 22-4; Carroll 10-2, 22-3; Westminster 9-3, 22-6; Montana Western 4-8, 16-11; Montana State-Northern 4-8, 14-12; Rocky Mountain 4-8, 11-17; Great Falls 3-9, 12-16; Montana Tech 3-9, 10-16.
Saturday, Mar 1
The Frontier Conference men’s race enters the final weekend with five teams still in the running for the top spot. Westminster, Rocky Mountain and defending champion LCSC are all 9-3 and tied for first place, while a game behind is both Carroll and Montana State-Northern. Westminster will play at Rocky Mountain on Thursday, while LCSC is at Carroll. Westminster and LCSC will then switch opponents on Saturday. If all four teams go 1-1, then Montana State-Northern could slip in and claim the title.
The good news for the Warriors is that they still control their destiny. If they win both of the games, they can do no worse than tie Westminster for the league title. However, LCSC swept Westminster during the season so the Warriors would receive the top seed for the conference tournament on March 5-8 in Butte, Mont.
The conference tiebreaking system first compares how the teams tied fared in head-to-head competition. If a tie still exists, then the tied teams are compared to how both fared against the next top team in the standings.
The Warriors enter Thursday’s contest riding a two-game win streak with two strong performances to wrap up the home portion of its schedule. Carroll is the hottest team in the league and has won five straight.
Defense has been the key for LCSC this season. The Warriors rank fifth in the country in turnover margin, forcing 6.7 more than they commit per game. LCSC also is sixth in steals per game at 10.8, and also ranked No. 9 in free-throw percentage at 72.3 percent.
The Warriors also are 3-8 in games where they have allowed 68 or more points and 15-0 in games where opponents have scored 66 or less points.
Senior post Mike Gordy, the conference’s co-Player of the Year last season as well as a second team All America honor, continues to put up solid numbers. He’s averaging 20.4 points per game, which ranks eighth in the NAIA, and is shooting 59.5 percent from the field, which is sixth. He also is averaging a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game, and is No. 32 in the country in free throw percentage at 79.1 percent.
Sophomore guard Napoleon Gordon is seventh nationally in steals at 2.6 per game and is No. 18 in assist/turnover ratio. Junior Brian Duckworth is 16th in 3-point shooting at 43.6 percent, and is 18th in steals at 2.3. Duckworth also is averaging 11.1 points per game.
Frontier Conference standings – Westminster 9-3, 19-5; Rocky Mountain 9-3, 21-6; Lewis-Clark State 9-3, 18-8; Carroll 8-4, 20-7; Montana State-Northern 8-4, 18-8; Montana Western 2-10, 9-17; Great Falls 2-10, 8-16; Montana Tech 1-11, 5-21.
The Warriors will go on the road for the first time this season when they travel to Seattle on Wednesday to take on the University of Washington Huskies at 5 p.m.
LCSC, the two-time defending national champion, is 10-2 on the season and has won its last four ballgames, which helped it claim the title of the Guardian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Tournament at Harris Field last weekend.
Pitching has been the strength of the team thus far. LCSC’s staff has a team earned run average of 2.36 and has allowed only 76 hits in 107 innings. The staff also has struck out 112 and walked only 38.
Senior Matt Fitts stands at 3-0 on the season with a 2.25 ERA, while Nick Masters is 2-0. A total of 13 pitchers have seen action at least twice this season and no pitcher has been used more than three times as the Warrior coaching staff uses the early season to split time and evaluate the staff.
LCSC is hitting .331 as a team and has outscored the opposition 90-35 thus far.
Among the regulars, junior outfielder Paul Martin leads the team with a .483 average and also has a team-high 13 RBI. Nic Benton (.409), and Ikaika Lester (.405) also are swinging the bat well. Lester has 12 RBI, while Benton has been a pleasant surprise in the outfield this season.
Brent Wyatt, who seems to have settled in at shortstop, is hitting .359 with 11 RB I, while Kyle Melton (.353) leads the team in stolen bases with three.
The Huskies stand 2-2 on the season after opening the season with a four-game series against UC Riverside, which wrapped up with a 5-2 UW win on Monday in Riverside, Calif. NCAA Division I schools outside of Hawaii were not allowed to open their season until last Friday.
The Huskies went 29-27 a year ago and finished fifth in the Pac-10 Conference with an 11-13 mark.
The season, the Huskies’ roster is entirely made up of players from the state of Washington.
LCSC’s only other game this week is a home contest Sunday against Gonzaga at 2 p.m. Gonzaga is 0-4 on the season after dropping four games to Oklahoma State on the road over the weekend. Gonzaga will play a four-game series with Brigham Young at home on Thursday-Saturday this week before traveling to Lewiston.
Both Warrior tennis teams face a big weekend in Region I action at home, which should go a long way in determining who the Region I representative is to the national tournaments.
Because the NAIA did away with regional qualifications for the national tournament prior to last season, the rankings now determine the regional representatives.
This weekend represents the only time several of these teams will play this season, which means the results should go a long way in determining the rankings for the rest of the season.
On the men’s side, only LCSC and the University of Alberta have teams. The two will square off twice – on Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. – at the LCSC Indoor Tennis Center. LCSC is 6-5 on the season, but four of the losses have come against NCAA Division I teams and the other loss was to UC Santa Cruz, the NCAA Division II defending national champions.
In the first NAIA poll of the season last week, the Warriors fell five spots from their preseason ranking of No. 11 to No. 16.
On the women’s side, Alberta and LCSC will be joined by College of Idaho and Southern Oregon. LCSC is only 2-1 on the season because weather has postponed a couple of matches. The Warriors are the top-ranked Region I team, followed by Alberta, Southern Oregon and College of Idaho. LCSC is ranked No. 15 in the NAIA Top 25 poll, the same spot it was in the preseason poll, while Alberta received one vote in the poll.
Both Warrior teams have qualified for nationals every year during the 2000s. The men’s team has advanced to nationals 17 times, while the women have been to the tournament 14 times.
JR. WARRIOR CLUB
Lewis-Clark State College is re-starting its Jr. Warrior Club, which is open to all children age 12 and younger and entitles them to special deals throughout the academic year at LCSC athletic events.
The club is limited to the first 250 paid applications received. The membership is $10, which included a Jr. Warrior T-shirt and membership card, a free general admission ticket to all LCSC regular season athletic events in the spring, e-mail updates, and a hot dog and soda pop on the day they sign up.
Registration for the club will begin at 1 p.m. on March 2 at LCSC’s Harris Field, prior to the Warriors’ 2 p.m. baseball contest against Gonzaga.
For more information on the Jr. Warrior Club, contact Brooke Cushman at either email@example.com or (208) 792-2675.