Rarely do individual numbers in a basketball game take center stage.
But for a moment, one 3-pointer was all that mattered for the Ketchikan High School basketball fans inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium on Friday night.
Chris Lee — the Kings’ leading scorer this season — had done it. He’d broken a 46-year-old record, and put himself at the top of the Kings’ all-time scoring leaderboard with one swish of the net.
Lee entered the game with 1,768 career points, needing 20 to tie Steve Ortiz’s record set in the early 1970s.
Ortiz graduated in 1974 with 1,788 career points.
Lee, who had 18 points through three and a half quarters against Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, drained the 3-pointer for career tallies No. 1,787, 1,788 and 1,789, solidifying his name in Kings’ folklore for generations to come.
“The moment was very special. ... I didn’t realize how I’d feel until it actually happened, and when it happened it felt really good.”
The crowd erupted after Lee hit the 3-pointer. As the Ketchikan pep club went wild courtside, holding signs, Ortiz stood and applauded with giant grin in the upper level.
“(It was) about a month ago when people started sending my wife and I some notes, and saying, ‘Hey, (Chris Lee) has a really great chance to be the all-time scorer for Kayhi,’” Ortiz said. “So we kept kind of following it. We got clippings. ... So that was kind of exciting. I think it’s great. He seems like a really nice kid. So we decided to come up and watch it happen.”
It was the pep club signs that caught Lee’s eyes.
“I looked at (the signs),” Lee said. “But I wasn’t aware that shot was going to do it. But I mean, it was a good feeling after, just noticing.”
Thunder Mountain eventually won the game however, 47-46. A jump shot with 1.8 seconds left on the clock gave the visiting Falcons the win.
Aside from the points, the stat that impressed the Kings’ head coach Eric Stockhausen the most was Lee’s assists.
“He had a ton of assists in a game where the focus was him puttin the ball in the hole,” he said. “So at no point in time is he taking shots that were chasing anything. And he hasn’t all year. ... I can think of three assists that Chris got, that if he was chasing or hunting points, he would not have done that.”
Lee’s main focus was focusing on achieving a conference win.
“I know he is more concerned about winning and losing, than he is about anything on a selfish level,” Stockhausen said.
Ortiz helped lead the 1974 Kings to a state championship. Lee did the same last season — the Kings’ first state title since that 1974 squad.
It was Lee’s second straight historical mark against Thunder Mountain. The last time the two squads met — on Jan. 25 — Lee passed Kings’ all-time great John Brown — Ortiz’s brother-in-law — for second all-time.
Lee finished the game with 22 points, and currently has 1,790 career tallies.
Who knows how long that will stand. But just like Ortiz, the memorable moments aren’t made individually.
Basketball is a team sport.
“It’s all credit to my teammates,” Lee said. “All those points, I couldn’t have done it without them. So it’s just an opportunity to showcase all my teammates, and what they’ve done for me.”