A 24-point loss to defending 3A state champion Prairie Friday couldn’t dampen the excitement of a new basketball season for Lauren Neff and her Camas teammates.
“I thought we were more competitive than the score indicated,” said head coach Chuck Knight. “It was only game one. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball game 15 and up.”
The Papermakers are in the 4A classification now. Sierra Brown, McKenna and Paige Jackson, Kathryn Johnson, Neff and Kyla Sumpter are ready to make some noise in this new league.
“I’ve known these girls for such a long time, and we all get to play together in our final year here,” Neff said. “That is what is pushing us so hard.”
Last season, these six seniors were a part of the first Camas girls basketball team to qualify for the state tournament in 34 years. Now they will have to contend with 4A state champion Skyview, longtime rival Union and talented teams from Battle Ground, Evergreen and Heritage.
“Being in 4A is a challenge that is really going to push us,” Neff said. “Our team has a lot of confidence, it’s just a matter of putting all that hard work we do in practice into the games.
Camas is gearing up for its new challengers by playing a tougher non-league schedule. After Prairie and Mountain View, the Papermakers will tangle with Mark Morris and Hockinson before entering the Nike Interstate Shootout Dec. 27 to 29, at Lake Oswego High School. Camas also has a game at Jesuit, Jan. 12.
Knight believes the girls are up to the task.
“Let’s not worry about wins and losses,” he said. “Let’s get better by playing this tough schedule so that when league rolls around, we are prepared.”
Camas bounced back Monday with a 59-46 victory against Mountain View. Brenna Khaw delivered 27 points.
Neff got a taste of the 4A competition in volleyball. She made life difficult for the opposing hitters at the net. Now she is ready to take the basketball to the hoop.
“I love playing with these girls and the energy we get from the crowd,” Neff said. “It’s something we need to take advantage of.”