To say Life Christian Academy’s Andy Comfort was a little surprised to hear Okanogan High boys basketball coach Mike Carlquist tell his players to play off him in the beginning of the Class 2A state-placing game Saturday would be an understatement.
It was sort of understandable — the game for fourth place was being played at 8 a.m. in the Spokane Arena. Maybe Carlquist had not woken up yet.
Or maybe Comfort’s sizzling shooting woke him up. By the time the coach did, it was too late.
Comfort, a senior, perhaps played the finest game of his career — a season-high 26 points, 12 rebounds and 5-for-5 shooting from the 3-point line.
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It helped the Eagles (27-2) claim their best state finish in school history, holding off Okanogan, 65-61.
Comfort came out firing, making three of those 3-pointers in the first half. Reid Roelofs hit two more as Life Christian built a 34-22 advantage.
“Yeah, the coach told them to lay off me, that I wasn’t a shooter,” Comfort said. “I was hitting everything.”
Okanogan’s strategy changed quickly as it tried sending one — and sometimes two — defenders at Comfort.
“He was fearless,” Life Christian coach Mark Lovelady said. “It was not like he was hitting open jumpers. They had a hand in his face, and he was money.”
Okanogan rallied in the second half, but Comfort and point guard Wyatt Dunlap both hit two free throws in the final minute. Sam Absten finished off the victory with a steal in the final seconds.
Comfort’s 26 points were the most any Life Christian player has scored in a state-tournament game. The previous high was 23, set by current Eagles assistant Justin Murray in 1998 against Toledo.
“I’ve always said the team that takes home fourth place is the team with the most heart in the tournament,” Lovelady said. “You have to bounce back after a loss on the first day, and play two great games to do that.”