LEWISTON - Less than 24 hours removed from winning the Frontier Conference Championship, the seventh ranked Lewis-Clark State Men’s Basketball team had four student-athletes named to the All-Frontier Conference team, and three members of the team take home individual awards. Also in his second year at the helm, Head Coach Austin Johnson was voted the Coach of Year.
Jake Albright was tabbed the Sixth-Man of the Year and Damek Mitchell shares the honor of Co-Defender of the Year.
“I am so happy to see our guys recognized,” Johnson said. “This league is full of good players and without a doubt I’d put our group up against anyone. Sometimes our balance may not help our guys get recognized but I know they’d take being conference champions over any individual awards.”
Mitchell was also named First-Team All-Frontier Conference, while Travis Yenor and Trystan Bradley garnered second team honors. Josiah Westbrook was voted All-Frontier Conference Honorable Mention.
In his second season leading the Warriors, Johnson guided Lewis-Clark State to the best regular-season finish in program history, finishing with a record of 27-3. His Warrior team won both the regular-season title and the conference tournament title in back-to-back years. LCSC will head into the national tournament with an overall record of 29-3.
“The Frontier Conference has great and experienced coaches, so to get this award is pretty humbling,” Johnson said. “Ultimately it’s a sign that I am part of special team. Most credit should go to my wife, Kelli, and my assistants. Leif Karlberg is essentially a co-head coach and his influence on our program goes deep. CJ Johnson has been a huge asset and adds value every day to our program.”
Mitchell has put together a historic junior campaign for the Warriors. The Bellingham, WA native set the program record for career assists, smashing the previous record with still another year to play. He has dished out 216 so far this year, a school single-season record, and has 484 in his career. He also recently joined the 1,000-Point Club this season and now has 1,034 under his belt. He leads LC with 6.9 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game.
Mitchell was also voted First-Team All-Frontier Conference. He ranks fourth in NAIA DI in total assists and assists per game, and is fifth in 3-point field goal percentage.
“Damek has been as good as any player in our league when you look at being a complete player,” Johnson explained. “We were the best defensive team in the league and that begins and ends with Damek’s approach and defensive confidence.”
Bradley is currently leading the Warriors in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game with a 56.2 field goal percentage. He is also the team’s leading blocker with 36 total. He scored a career-high 27 points in the Frontier Conference Semifinal game against Montana State-Northern and tied a career-high with five 3-pointers. He averages 41 percent from behind the arc and grabs 6.3 rebounds per game.
Yenor leads the Warriors in free throw percentage so far this season at 85.1 percent. The junior is averaging 13.1 points per game and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and 42.2 percent from 3-point range. He scored a career-high 37 points against Rocky Mountain College on Jan. 11.
“Travis and Trystan were as good as any forwards in the league,” Johnson said. “They each had big games and knew when they needed to step up. Obviously they can shoot the ball but they were great defensively and on the glass, especially down the stretch.”
Westbrook leads LC State in 3-pointers made this season with 77. One of the best 3-point shooters in the nation, Westbrook is making triples 47.8 percent of the time and averaging 12.5 points per game. He is ninth in NAIA DI in 3-point field goal percentage.
“Josiah is a very deserving of all-conference recognition,” Johnson said. “He was one of the premier defenders in our league and shot the lights out all year. As much as anybody on our roster, Josiah is a big reason why we took a big step as a program this year.”
Albright took home Sixth Man of the Year after leading LC State in rebounding, averaging 6.7 rebounds per game. He had three double-doubles on the season and has grabbed 210 rebounds so far. Albright is averaging 8.9 points per game and has put up 20 blocks.
“I am excited to see Jake recognized,” Johnson added. “Without question he was the best non-starter in the league. He scored, rebounded, defended and also created with his passing. He embraced the sixth-man role and that mentality made us a better team.”
Jaxon Hughes was selected as the team’s Champion of Character.
The NAIA will release the national tournament bracket on Wednesday at 5 P.M.