In the final minute of the state championship game on Saturday, Cade Gebbers found himself in a familiar place: the free-throw line at the Spokane Arena.
The Brewster junior had been there a night before, and his results were shaky, missing the front ends of two 1-and-1s before finally sinking the two shots his team needed to ice its semifinal victory.
Against Life Christian Academy in the title game, Gebbers wasn’t perfect. But teammate Kade Kelpman got a key rebound, and with a second chance, Gebbers didn’t disappoint.
He sank two key free throws to give the Bears a late cushion. Later, with 1.3 seconds remaining, Gebbers’ made one free throw to break a tie and give the Brewster Bears their first 2B boys basketball championship since 1985 with a 58-57 victory.
“God gave me three chances yesterday and two today, so that’s really nice,” the Brewster junior said, “but I made them when I needed to.”
Gebbers finished with 34 points – the second-highest individual total of this year’s tournament – hitting 6 of 10 3-pointers and 6 of 8 free-throw attempts to carry the Bears, who have six 2B titles to go along with three at the 1A level.
“It’s amazing,” senior Conner Ashworth said. “It’s amazing to bring it back to the town of Brewster.”
Brewster led 52-42 with about 6 minutes to go, but that lead disappeared 3 minutes later, when a layup by LCA sophomore post Chae Haynes tied it at 52.
Haynes finished with 20 points and eight rebounds; Ashworth had six points and 13 rebounds.
But after that tying basket, Gebbers did the rest for the Bears.
He hit a 3-pointer and, with 33 seconds left, missed the front end of a 1-and-1. But Kelpman rebounded his miss, got Gebbers the ball back, and this time he hit both free throws to give the Bears a 57-53 lead.
Again the Eagles recovered. Sophomore Bradley Swillie sank a free throw with 10.5 seconds to make the score 57-54. He missed the second attempt, but Daishaun Nichols got the rebound, found junior Omari Maulana open for a 3-pointer and he drained it, tying the game with 7 seconds left.
Brewster quickly inbounded, and just beyond midcourt Gebbers was fouled with 1.3 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second and Maulana’s heave was no good.
LCA finished with a 46-36 rebounding advantage, but hit just half of its free throws (11 of 22). Maulana led the Eagles with 24 points on 10-of-26 shooting.
Brewster’s title came in the first year with head coach Michael Taylor, who took over duties from his father, Tim.
“In our family and in our community, basketball’s meant a lot to me and my family, (with) my dad coaching and the tradition in Brewster before us,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot to have behind you, but when you have that behind you, you can accomplish a lot.”