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Bremerton boys basketball headed to state 3A tournament
LAKEWOOD – On a night when the winners were at a loss for words, one number told the story.
After letting a 16-point lead slip to two late in the game, the Bremerton boys basketball team held on for a 76-72 victory over Evergreen High School in a loser-out, winner-to-state game in the Class 3A West Central District III/Southwest tournament Tuesday at Clover Park High School.
It was the 16th win this season for the Knights (16-5).
And now the team is one of 16 headed to the Class 3A state championships, which begin March 10 at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s indescribable,” said senior guard Terrick McGhee, who made two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to put Bremerton up 76-72. “Just to make it this far, it’s a good moment. I don’t have the right words.”
McGhee’s free throws ended an Evergreen comeback that included 27 fourth-quarter points. At one point in the third quarter, Bremerton led 51-35.
But after an 8-0 Evergreen run, the lead dwindled to four inside two minutes.
With possession and a 74-72 lead, Bremerton’s Andre Coleman lost control of the ball on a drive to the hoop, turning it over with less than 20 seconds to play.
But on the ensuing possession, Evergreen’s Mohammad Sambou was called for traveling at the 3.5 mark.
McGhee was fouled and hit both free throws.
Then the celebration was on.
“Nobody even picked these guys to win the Olympic League, you know?” said Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg. “You just appreciate it so much.”
Bremerton will participate in the state tournament for the first time since 1999, more than a decade ago when all the current players were younger than 10 years old.
The Knights’ seed at state will be determined this weekend. They face Franklin Pierce High School on Friday at Auburn High School and then play again Saturday.
Two victories would mean a No. 4 seed, while two losses would mean a No. 8 seed. With a split, the team would be No. 5 or 6.
“We’ve got to go to work at practice and be focused,” said junior Andre Coleman, who scored 12 points. “I just don’t want it to end, it feels great.”
This was the team’s highest moment not only of the season, but in the past 11 years. The Knights advanced to districts in 2009, but they were eliminated in the first round.
Not even Marvin Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, could guide Bremerton to state.
“I’m just so proud of the kids, man,” Lindberg said. “I couldn’t be happier for them.”
For much of the game, it looked as though Bremerton would cruise to a double-digit victory.
The Knights led 36-25 at halftime, went up by as many as 16 and were ahead by 13 entering the fourth.
But Evergreen kept closing the gap.
“You’ve got to give credit to them,” Lindberg said, “But our guys, they fought and sealed the deal when they had to.”
Senior Jarell Flora scored a team-high 24 points for the Knights. McGhee added 17 and was 10-of-10 from the free-throw line – 2-for-2 when it mattered most.
“I had no doubt in my mind Terrick was going to make those free throws,” Lindberg said. “He’s our money guy.”