Sophomore standout Spencer Lee took an outstanding pass from junior Caden Mee and scored at the buzzer, preserving Bellingham’s first chance at a state boys basketball tournament in 13 years.
Lee, who shook off ankle problems that limited him severely in the previous game, gave the Red Raiders a wild 80-78 win over Archbishop Murphy in a loser-out thriller in the consolation bracket of the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament late Thursday night at Mount Vernon High.
The Red Raiders (15-8) will face Whatcom County rival Lynden (16-6) for third place at 6 p.m. Saturday on the same court in another loser-out game for the only state regionals berth available in the consolation bracket.
It could safely be said that all six players in coach Brad McKay’s primary rotation played some of their best ball of the season in turning back Archbishop (16-7), a taller, extremely athletic team.
Jonny Larson, the only starting senior Thursday, may have played as hard as he ever has, finishing with 23 points including a 3-pointer with 3:26 left for a 73-72 lead, capping his seven-point fourth quarter. He fouled out a minute later. Lee, showing courage with his injury, finished with 19 points, with six in the last quarter as the Raiders refused to wilt.
Junior guard Rits Voeut finished with 12 points, including two free throws that produced a 78-76 lead with 56 seconds left after he was fouled following a leaping steal. Kobey Georgen buried a 3-pointer for a 76-76 tie. Georgen, turning in his best game, finished with 14 points including three 3s and fellow sophomore Drew McFall scored 12 including three early 3s.
Mee didn’t score but grabbed a half-dozen rebounds and played his usual dynamic defensive game, never backing down in any situation.
Bellingham scored a 62-58 upset over Lynden in the second round of the tournament, adding spice to Saturday’s showdown for one available state spot.