Three months after hitting a jumper that helped sink Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship game, former Montana forward Bobby Moorehead appeared primed to take down an EWU alum-led team on Hoopfest’s grandest stage.
Moorehead, who set the Grizzles’ program record for most games played (134), cashed in on an early two-pointer Sunday in the elite open men’s championship game against Lee and Hayes, giving his Montana jersey-clad team – Bobby and the Boys – a 2-0 cushion at Nike Center Court.
And that’s about where the 6-foot-7 Tacoma product’s fortunes ended.
Former EWU standouts Marc Axton and Parker Kelly hit back-to-back two-pointers after swiftly gaining a lead, fueling a run that sparked Lee and Hayes’ 20-10 title game rout, the team’s third straight elite title.
Lee and Hayes is the first team to three-peat in the elite men’s open division.
Kelly, a 2015 EWU grad who starred at Gonzaga Prep, drove through the lane before elevating and sinking the game-ending jumper.
“(Moorehead) is young, so we knew we’d have to go out and guard him,” said Axton, an All-Big Sky Conference selection who helped the Eagles earn their first NCAA tournament appearance in 2004. “And we’re a team that’s been playing together for awhile now. So we just knew we had to play smart and make the extra pass.”
Having the 2013 West Coast Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year helped.
Former Gonzaga wing Mike Hart teamed up with Kelly, Axton and former Northwest Nazarene and Northwest Christian School big man Robert Lipman once again, often guarding the team’s most viable threat.
Moorehead lauded Lee and Hayes.
“They were the better team. They played great defense and hit some tough shots,” said Moorehead, the only former Grizzly on his team.
Moorehead played with the Shelton brothers – Austin, Aubrey and Aaron – a group of former college players in their late 30s who won an elite open title together in 2011.
“They’re a good team,” Axton said. “We were just able to hit some shots.”
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