When the Lewis-Clark State men’s basketball team really needs a basket, it’ll often put its two star forwards into a high-low game with their normal roles reversed — with Jake Albright high, at the free-throw line, and Trystan Bradley low, in the post.
With their backs against the wall, that alignment powered the No. 5 Warriors to nine consecutive points to take a late lead and beat unranked Montana State-Northern 64-57 on Saturday at the Activity Center in a Frontier Conference game. It is LCSC’s 16th consecutive victory.
Bradley, a Lewiston High School graduate, finished with 23 points and felt like they came “easy” for a simple reason.
“Jake was throwing dimes,” Bradley said of his frontcourt mate, who attended Clarkston High School. “I was posting up and all I had to do was turn.”
Bradley scored the Warriors’ go-ahead basket in the block with 5:38 left off an assist from Albright in the high post. About a minute later, Bradley again sealed his man off and scored on a perfectly lobbed pass from Albright for a 54-51 lead.
“They fronted TB,” Albright said, “and when I flashed high, my guy had to move with me and that made that over-the-head pass easy.”
It looked like it: On L-C’s next possession, Albright was working with the ball just below the foul line when he slipped a bounce pass to Bradley in the post for another point-blank basket.
That no doubt set up what came next. With about two minutes left, Albright caught the ball at the foul line and began a back-down drive that resulted in an old-fashioned three-point play and an eight-point L-C lead.
“I saw he had kind of a mismatch in the lane, so I filled up,” Bradley said. “He went low and made it and got fouled.”
Northern, which had traded the lead with L-C six times, didn’t pull within a possession the rest of the game.
“We’ve been working a lot more on the high-low in practice,” Warriors coach Austin Johnson said. “It’s something I probably didn’t do enough work trying to establish. So the last three or four weeks, it’s something we’ve looked at a lot more because Jake’s a tremendous passer.”
Albright finished with six assists, second only to Damek Mitchell (the school’s all-time assists leader) with seven. Albright (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Bradley (a career-high 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
Said Johnson, “The way they guarded us, that was really all we could go to, play after play, because they did such a good job of taking away the 3.”
The Warriors, who lead the NAIA in 3-point percentage, shot just 20 percent from outside against the Lights (16-10, 6-8).
The win moved the Warriors (25-1, 13-1) into position to clinch at least a share of the FC title in their next game, when they visit Montana Tech on Thursday. L-C has four regular-season contests remaining.
MONTANA STATE-NORTHERN (16-10, 6-8)
Harris 5-11 4-6 16, Huse 6-9 1-2 15, Bey 4-9 0-2 8, Keltner 3-6 0-0 6, McCadney 2-8 1-2 5, Jackson 1-4 2-2 5, Bray 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 22-50 8-14 57.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (25-1, 13-1)
Bradley 10-12 2-2 23, Westbrook 3-7 4-5 12, Bailey 3-8 0-1 6, Mitchell 2-8 0-0 4, Yenor 1-3 -0-0 2, Albright 7-12 1-3 15, Stevenson 1-1 0-0 2, Hughes 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-53 7-11 64.
Halftime — Montana State-Northern, 31-29. 3-point goals — Montana State-Northern 5-17 (Huse 2-3, Harris 2-5, Jackson 1-3, Bey 0-1, Keltner 0-1, McCadney 0-2, Bray 0-2), Lewis-Clark State 3-15 (Westbrook 2-4, Bradley 1-3, Yenor 0-1, Bailey 0-2, Hughes 0-2, Mitchell 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Montana State-Northern 28 (Harris, Keltner 7), Lewis-Clark State 33 (Albright 12). Assists — Montana State-Northern 9 (McCadney, Jackson 3), Lewis-Clark State 17 (Mitchell 7). Total fouls — Montana State-Northern 14, Lewis-Clark State 12. A — 687.
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