The LCC men’s basketball team was in control and in the lead for much of Wednesday night’s game with South Puget Sound, but no matter how hard the Red Devils tried, they never quite got through. away from the Clippers. But the LCC still managed to outlast the SPS and the Red Devils survived with a 71-69 victory in the NWAC West Region game.
Every time the Devils managed to string together the points to build a multi-scoring lead, it looked like the Clippers had a 3-pointer in their back pocket to recover right away within a mark or two of tying the Red Devils.
LCC eventually managed to hold off SPS around the five-minute mark, building an eight-point lead at 67-59. But another timely three, coupled with an electric one-handed finish from Mekhi Speller-Hale, brought the Clippers back in the final three minutes where the LCC defense stepped in to cut the wind from the Clippers’ sails.
“We had a few stoppages at the end,” LCC coach Mickey Polis said. “It’s good to have an eight-point lead and you have to hold on. They hit some big shots, absolutely…but we managed to tighten up at the end and get a few interceptions.
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The Red Devils had the ball in the dying seconds and the Clippers decided against fouls in hopes of stopping LCC and knocking down a three-way draw on the other side, but Solomon Campbell had ideas different. After a Ky-mani-Pollard miss with an empty clock, Campbell was in the right place for a tip to give LCC a 71-66 lead with three seconds left. The Clippers managed to hit the three that would have tied the game in those three seconds, so Campbell’s point became the difference.
“That’s a huge tip,” Polis said. “This could be one of our plays of the year.”
Sherman Royal did a bit of everything for the Red Devils, leading all scorers with 21 points. Royal also had a double-double with a team-high 12 rebounds and grabbed four steals on the night to lead the Devils in defense.
“I thought he played the real possessed last night, he played like a man-kid there getting some rebounds,” Polis said.
Royal said he took a step back and played under control during the standout performance.
“I was just taking my time,” he said. “I didn’t rush at all. I took smart shots, easy shots. I took a few rough ones, but these are just test shots just to get the feel.
He also added that the Red Devils did what they had to do down the stretch to sink the Clippers.
“We had to play hard,” he said. “I think we played hard tonight. We just had to step up our game. They did a few runs and we had to stop them.
Pollard added 15 points for LCC as the only other devil in double digits and Campbell, Kyle Gruhler and Emanuel Steward all added eight for LCC.
The Red Devils took the win despite the Clippers being something of an unknown commodity. They finally have their full roster in place after dealing with a few injuries, giving LCC a fresh new look.
“They finally got back to their final squad healthy… We got them back from the start and we didn’t get to watch a lot of movies with their entire returning squad,” Polis said.
LCC struggled to go a shot-free night, knocking down just 45% of their shots from the field and 20% of their three-point attempts, but that never changed Polis’ game plan.
“I think it’s about getting the best shot possible and whether it’s a three or a two, we want to get the best shot,” he said. “Whether we shoot badly or not.”
LCC (13-4, 5-1 league) will be at home again on Saturday against Grays Harbor at 7 p.m.
Noyes leads the LCC women past the SPS
The LCC women’s basketball team was back to dominate the paint on Wednesday in a 73-52 win over South Puget Sound.
Jodi Noyes controlled the pain for the Red Devils, en route to 20 points and 12 rebounds on the game, leading all players in both categories.
The Red Devils built a 40-27 lead in the first quarter, but the Clippers managed to cut the lead to three at 52-49 early in the fourth quarter.
“The energy in the third quarter was still good, we just made a lot of mistakes,” LCC coach Lucas Myers said. “We played too fast and turned the ball over and brought South Puget Sound to life and they executed really well.”
After letting the Clippers back into the game, LCC absolutely dominated the fourth quarter, finishing on a 21-3 run in the fourth to separate themselves from the Clippers in a big way. Myers admits the flawed third quarter could have been caused by leaving the press longer than it should have as the Clippers found the weak spots and took advantage of them to get back into the game.
Noyes’ dominance in the paint marks a return to what the Red Devils have generally tried to do this season. LCC had moved away from paint-dominated play in recent clashes as opposing sides smothered the box in hopes of stopping the Red Devils’ attack.
“Some weeks you’re going to get it, some weeks things don’t go your way,” Myers said before mentioning Noyes’ big night. “They didn’t double and triple it as much as some of the other teams did and that opened up a lot more for him.”
Myers hopes tonight starts a trend for the rest of the season.
“We really want to play hard,” he said. “Whether we play our zone attack or the man-to-man attack, our offense is designed to get through the paint.”
Chinedu Nnadi added 13 points off the bench for the Red Devils and Katelynn Foner added 10 points and had five assists and five steals as a defensive star with Kelso alum Ally Harman.
“Ally Harman and Katelynn Forner were tremendous defensively and played for us in the fourth quarter as well,” Myers said.
The LCC (16-1, 7-0 league) is taking a week off before traveling to Auburn to face Green River on Wednesday.