Teen lays father to rest, wins state championship on same day

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 10 at 6:00 PM

CHEHALIS, Wash. - James Spencer taught his daughter, Julie, how to play basketball.

The 58-year-old would have been proud of Julie Saturday when she helped lead W.F. West High School to a 2A girls' basketball state championship.

James Spencer died in February of skin cancer.

"He was my best friend in the world," said Julie Spencer, a 17-year-old junior at Chehalis' W.F. West.

There wasn't much to criticize about her play in the state championship game. She scored 20 points in the win and was named MVP of the tournament.

Reaching a state final is never easy, but it almost never happened for Julie. Her father's funeral was at 11am on Saturday at a church in Toledo, Wash. Tipoff for the state final was set for 5pm in Yakima, about 150 miles away, across the Cascade mountains.

Julie feared she would have to miss the game until Kenmore Air flew her on a charter flight after the memorial service.

Kenmore Air got involved after getting word about Julie's situation from KIRO Radio host Dori Monson. Julie's coach contacted Monson last week -  Monson also coaches girls basketball. 

Julie said she played "probably" the best game of her year and felt like her father was watching her.

"I know he was," said Julie, "I know he was praying for me. The whole game he was smiling down and that would have been his biggest life moment."

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