BUTTE, Mont. -- When Lewis-Clark State staged end-of-game situations during its practices this season, the ball frequently ended up in Ricky Frazier's hands. And Frazier frequently relied on his running teardrop fling.
When faced with the real thing on Saturday night -- a knotted nail-biter with only seconds remaining -- the Warriors called on Frazier and his artsy shot.
And the senior point guard from Seattle delivered, connecting on a 10-foot floater with 1.1 seconds left to lift LCSC to a 64-62 victory over Westminster in the Frontier Conference men's tournament's thrilling championship game.
With the win, the Warriors, 30-5, secured an automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament. That will take place March 24-30 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. Pairings for the event will likely be announced Tuesday afternoon.
Griffins freshman Nate Sanchez made a post bucket, which tied the back-and-forth game at 62-all with 16.8 seconds remaining.
During the ensuing timeout, the Warriors went to a small lineup, putting in guards Frazier, Danny Allen and Joey Ray. And they put Frazier in command.
"Over those weeks of doing that play (in practice), different guys have made them," L-C coach George Pfeifer said. "But he's made the most and he's made probably the best decisions.
"To be honest with you, I'm the biggest negative guy," the coach added. "Usually when the ball is shot in that kind of situation, I'm going, 'Ahh, that ain't going in.' When he shot that, I thought it was going in."
Frazier banked the shot in. "Yeah, he usually doesn't do that," Pfeifer said. "But it worked."
With James Idoko and Ray leading the charge, L-C was ahead much of the final 10 minutes -- although not by much.
With 1:35 remaining, Dustin Endsley's baseline jumper put the Warriors up by three. After Westminster's Adam Hiatt connected on 1 of 2 free throws, the teams went scoreless for a full minute -- until Sanchez's inside bucket tied it up.
These two teams were clearly the class of the conference this season. They shared the regular-season championship and split their previous two meetings. And Westminster, ranked 21st in the final national poll, will likely nab an at-large berth at nationals.
"Win, lose or draw, the thing that I really wanted out of tonight was to play at a high level," Pfeifer said. "I thought that was the most important thing for this basketball program right now.
"Obviously since I'm involved in it, I say this, but this was as good a basketball game as you could have watched."
Idoko finished with team highs in points (14) and rebounds (eight). LCSC also got 10 points from both Allen and Frazier.
This is the second time in the Warriors' five seasons in the FC that they've won this tournament. They also took the crown in 2000, during their first season in the Montana-based organization.
Nick Booth 6-9 1-2 13, Matt Mark 2-4 0-1 4, Ben Rajamaki 0-1 0-0 0, Isaac Butler 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Hiatt 5-10 4-6 16, Steve Cramer 0-0 0-0 0, Jared Roberts 0-2 0-0 0, Shane Humphreys 4-8 2-3 14, Nate Sanchez 5-9 5-7 15, Jesse Birch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-43 12-19 62.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (30-5)
Martin Brothers 0-2 2-2 2, Dustin Endsley 4-10 1-1 9, Adam Trombley 3-5 0-0 6, Danny Allen 4-7 0-0 10, Joey Ray 2-9 2-2 8, Ricky Frazier 3-4 4-4 10, Danny Ball 1-2 0-0 3, Jason Hansen 1-5 0-0 2, James Idoko 5-7 4-8 14, Chris Pitts 0-1 0-0 0, Jared Tikker 0-0 0-0 0. 23-52 13-17 64.
Halftime -- LCSC 33, Westminster 29. 3-point goals -- LCSC 5-14 (Allen 2-2, Ray 2-7, Ball 1-1), Westminster 6-16 (Humpherys 4-7, Hiatt 2-6). Rebounds -- LCSC 24 (Idoko 8), Westminster 26 (Booth 6). Assists -- LCSC 11 (Allen 3), Westminster 14 (Hiatt 6). Total fouls -- LCSC 14, Westminster 19. Fouled out -- none. Technical foul -- none.