SPOKANE — Chris Bacchus is having the tournament of his lifetime while Quilcene teammate Nate Burlingame is trying to get well and find his legs at the Class 2B boys basketball championships.
The Rangers made school history Thursday by winning their first state boys tournament ever, thanks to Bacchus playing some of his career best ball and Nate Burlingame able to play a full game despite suffering from food poisoning.
Bacchus’s literally last-second shot sent Quilcene (17-5) to a 47-45 nail-biting victory over a solid Oroville (14-9) team in the do-or-die consolation quarterfinals Thursday morning at Spokane Arena.
That sends the Rangers to another loser-out game, the consolation semifinals, today against Liberty Christian (18-5).
The winner moves on to trophy Saturday against the winner between North Beach (16-7) and Lind-Ritzville (18-12) in the fifth-place/eighth-place final at noon.
Quilcene coach Brad Burlingame came into the tournament with high hopes to throw the no-win-at-state monkey off the school’s back and maybe get a few other wins, too.
Ironically, the Rangers were poised to defeat a very beatable Pe Ell (14-7) in the first round Wednesday but fate had a different idea.
Nate Burlingame, the team’s point guard who makes the Rangers go, came down with a heavy-duty bout of food poisoning before the game. He tried to play but quickly gave up on the idea.
Nate Burlingame was lying on three sideline chairs during the entire second half, nearly passed out.
But the Rangers still almost won, thanks to Bacchus’s game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Pe Ell won on a 3-pointer that probably would have been an air ball except that it was partially blocked by a Quilcene player, and the ball’s new route sent it right through the net, Brad Burlingame said.
On top of that the Rangers watched quarterfinal opponent Oroville nearly upset state powerhouse White Swan in the first round, losing in double overtime.
“The loss to Pe Ell devastated us,” Brad Burlingame said. “And on top of watching Oroville play, it was looking bleak for our kids.”
But Bacchus and the rest of the team had other ideas.
“Christopher has played an amazing tournament,” Brad Burlingame said. “He was in such a mood before the Oroville game.
“Before the game I told the guys that it’s all about rebounds. And they responded.”
The Rangers had only 12 boards against Pe Ell, 10 by Bacchus. On Thursday, the team brought down 34 with Bacchus getting nine and 6-foot sophomore Brandon “Rooster” Bancroft bringing down seven.
Nate Burlingame was able to play the entire game despite just getting down a little bit of food Wednesday night.
Bacchus ripped the nets for a game-high 19 points, including the game-winning two at the end.
Oroville had the ball with 16 seconds left but the Rangers weren’t going to let the Hornets shoot the ball.
“We weren’t going to let them run down the clock and give us no time to shoot like the nightmare of the Pe Ell game,” Brad Burlingame said.
“We have a good prevent throwing-the-ball-in defense,” he said.
The Rangers don’t let any players who can shoot free throws get the ball.
“I put in all subs to foul a particular player, their worst foul-shooter,” Burlingame said.
The strategy worked like a charm as the Oroville shooter “put up a couple of bricks,” he added.
That left it up to Bacchus to save the day. Nate Burlingame was double-teamed but got the ball off to Bacchus, who put the moves on a much bigger player, and put up an uncontested jumper for the winning basket as the buzzer sounded.
“Chris is lightning fast,” Burlingame said.
Nate Burlingame and Bancroft had seven points each for the Rangers.
Burlingame also dished out seven assists while Bancroft had four steals.
Brad Burlingame is expecting a good game from Liberty Christian today.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “I just hope Nate’s legs will be there.”