Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee nails a three while shooting with a hot hand in the fourth quarter of a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee nails a three while shooting with a hot hand in the fourth quarter of a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Lee flips switch, Glacier Peak boys rally again to reach 4A state semis

Jo Lee pours in a barrage of 3-pointers down the stretch as the Grizzlies outlast Gonzaga Prep 65-58 in overtime.

TACOMA — For 29 minutes nothing went right for Jo Lee. The Glacier Peak High School boys basketball team’s star wing couldn’t get a shot to fall, couldn’t get a foul call, and the Grizzlies’ state championship hopes were all but gone.

But with three minutes remaining in regulation Lee flipped the switch, and Glacier Peak’s grand shot maker carried the Grizzlies to another dramatic comeback in the dome.

Lee drained three straight 3-pointers as Glacier Peak erased a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation, then stuck two more at the start of overtime as the cardiac Grizzlies defeated the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups 65-58 in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Thursday night at the Tacoma Dome.

“I think it was the realization that our season was on the line,” Lee said about what flipped the switch. “We got here and talked about playing on Saturday, playing on Friday, just one game at a time. I looked at the scoreboard and we were down and I thought something just had to happen, something had to change.”

It was Glacier Peak’s second stunning comeback in two nights, as the Grizzlies erased a 20-point deficit against Camas in the round of 12 to reach Thursday’s game. The fourth-seeded Grizzlies (24-3) advanced to face No. 7 Richland in the semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

“We have kids who want to fight, who want to compete,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said. “We’re so young, we have kids who have grown up quickly, and they realize that sometimes adversity hits, and the true test of athletics is how you deal with adversity. We played a great team that is so defensively oriented — you can’t plan for their defense, you have to experience it. And I think our kids were just like, ‘You know what guys, let’s start bringing it.’ We made a few adjustments, did a few things defensively to maybe give us a little life, and then players stepped up, players made plays. The truth of it is coaches can only do so much, players decide the games, and we had some players who really stepped up.”

Lee led four Glacier Peak scorers in double digits with 22. Reed Nagel scored 16, hitting three big 3-pointers at junctures that prevented the Bullpups from extending their lead to double digits. Isaiah Cuellar added 13 points, including the driving layup that ultimately forced overtime. And Zachary Albright battled down low with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee takes an off-balance shot during a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Jo Lee takes an off-balance shot during a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Henry Sandberg scored 21 points and Nate Christy had 19 points and 11 boards for fourth-seeded Gonzaga Prep (20-6), which faces No. 8 Kentwood in a loser-out consolation at 2 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

For the second straight night Glacier Peak started slow and was forced to play from behind. This time the Grizzlies never let the deficit extend beyond 10, but every time Glacier Peak threatened to catch up there was a turnover, an ill-advised shot or a layup that just rimmed out. It was desperation time when the Grizzlies trailed 48-39 with time winding down.

But that’s when Lee took over. He hit a pair of 3s to cut the deficit to 48-45. After Sandberg hit a fall-away jumper, Lee buried a contested 3 to make it 50-48 with 1:24 remaining.

Glacier Peak’s bench goes wild for a Jo Lee three pointer during a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s bench goes wild for a Jo Lee three pointer during a WIAA 4A Boys Basketball quarterfinal against Gonzaga Prep on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“One of our assistant coaches (Dylan Vargas) talked to (Lee) and said, ‘Jo just be you,’” Hunter said. “Jo cares so much about this program, he’s been a lifelong part of the program, his brother played for me, he’s watched us since he was in elementary school. This means as much to Jo as it does to anybody. I think he was starting to feel it a little bit, and our coach did a great job of saying, ‘Hey, you are a great player and this is not all about you, but we kind of need you to step up and be you right now.’ I give our coach credit for understanding the moment, and give Jo credit for taking that and running with it, freeing himself up. He made plays, that’s for sure.”

On the ensuing possession Glacier Peak forced Gonzaga Prep into a shot-clock violation to get the ball back with a chance to tie. Cuellar, with the shot clock winding down, knifed down the lane and scored a difficult runner off the glass as the Grizzlies finally tied it. Gonzaga Prep’s Dylynn Groves had an open look at a corner 3 to win it, but the ball just rimmed out and the game went to overtime.

In OT it was again the Lee show. The defense somehow left him open for 3 on the first possession of the extra period. Then after Gonzaga prep’s Ryan Jackson made a free throw, Lee came down the court and pulled up for another 3 to stretch the lead to five. Glacier Peak increased the lead to nine in the final minute, and although the Bullpups made one last push to get within four, the Grizzlies made enough free throws to close it out.

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