BELLINGHAM - On a night when Bellingham's boys' basketball team paid tribute to its senior class, it was fitting that the game and the season rested in the hands of senior Kyle Redmond.
The Red Raiders, tied 76-76 with 1.4 seconds remaining in overtime against Mount Baker (6-14, NWC 3-9), sent Redmond to the line after he was fouled attempting a fastbreak layup.
Redmond missed strong off the back iron in his first attempt, but collected himself and hit the second free throw giving Bellingham (11-10, NWC 6-6) a 77-76 win and its first winning season in six years.
"My heart was beating so fast," Redmond said. "I couldn't think straight and I knew I had to hit the second one.
"I've never had a feeling like this before; I've never been in that position before in my career, and it is the best feeling I've ever had."
Although Redmond hit the defining free throw, it was the combined play of sophomores Dante Check and Kailen Hayes that gave the seniors such a sweet goodbye.
Bellingham, trailing 69-67 with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation, sent Hayes to the free throw line to force overtime. Hayes, with a heavily bandaged non-shooting hand after a collision in the second quarter left him writhing in pain, displayed the poise of someone not his age hitting both free throws, capping his 19-point, 10-rebound night.
In overtime, with the score tied 76-76, Mount Baker's Ty Munsell brought the ball up the court with 11 seconds left on the clock and the ability to force yet another overtime. Playing tight man-to-man defense, Check stripped Munsell, saw a sprinting Redmond and hit the senior in stride.
The rest is history.
"What a great high school basketball game," Bellingham coach Ken Crawford said. "The program looks good; The future looks good for us."
The Red Raiders seemingly didn't have anything to play for in its final game except pride, Crawford added. They weren't fighting for a playoff spot - that was all but lost last week.
Instead, Redmond said this win was for the program, for the fans and for all the families who have supported them this season.
Mount Baker's Zan Roman led all scorers with 27 points on 10 of 18 from the floor, but he didn't attempt a shot in overtime.
Bellingham 77, Mt. Baker 76
Mt. Baker 24 13 16 16 7-76
Bellingham 19 16 18 16 8- 77
Mt. Baker: Isaac Gilmore 1, Rueben Murashov 16, Zan Roman 27, Ty Munsell 8, Seth Bass, Harrison Whitmyre 2, Conner Brandland 2, Dalton Munsell 11, Andrew Zender 9, Team totals: 27-60, 13-19, 76.
Bellingham: Cyrus Davies 2, Kyle Redmond 10, Darice Haywood 4, Alex Check 19, Tristan Hurley 3, Nick Zeegers 8, Aaron Burke, Marques Reynolds 6, Dante Check 6, Kailen Hayes 19. Team totals: 28-62, 14-18 77
3-ptg: Mt. Baker 9 (Roman 5), Bellingham 5 (Zeeger 2). Rebounds: Mt. Baker 20 (Munsell 5); Bellingham 28 (Hayes 10). Fouls: Mt. Baker 14, Bellingham 18. Turnovers: Mt. Baker 19, Bellingham 17. .