Play with passion

Camas High School senior McKenna Jackson tricks three defenders and passes the ball to an open teammate. The Papermakers beat the Eagles 60-19 Thursday, in the Camas warehouse.

Ferocious defense and relentless rebounding helped the Camas High School girls basketball team defeat Hockinson by 42 points and Hudson’s Bay by 41.

“Defense leads to offense,” said sophomore guard Brenna Khaw. “Our goal is to shut the other team down.”

The Papermakers disposed of the Eagles 60-19 Thursday. Hudson’s Bay never got comfortable in the Camas warehouse. The Papermakers rolled to a 12-5 advantage in the first quarter. The Eagles cut the deficit to nine points by halftime, but then the Papermakers scored the first 13 points in the third quarter before the Eagles could get one back. Camas outscored Bay 23-5 in the third quarter and 15-1 in the fourth.

“We were defending better, and that led to a lot of transition baskets for us,” said head coach Chuck Knight. “When we get the ball in Brenna’s hands, she’s going to find players.”

Khaw utilized her size and quickness to get to loose balls and fire magnetic passes to Nikki Corbett, Sierra Brown and Lauren Neff. She also took the ball to the hoop when there was an opening, and finished the game with seven points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Corbett racked up 18 points and 12 rebounds. She went on a tear in the third quarter and scored 12 points. She had two rebounds and a put back for two points in one sequence, and a rebound and a put back on another. After grabbing a defensive rebound on the other end, Corbett closed out the third quarter in dramatic fashion. She rebounded a Camas miss and put it back in the net just before the buzzer sounded.

“We told Nikki not to fade away on her shots and take it to their chins,” Knight said. “She did that in the second half and came up big for us.”

Brown contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Neff fought through foul trouble, and still scored eight points. Rachel Rice delivered 10 points off the bench, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Three Papermakers scored in double figures in a 68-26 victory against Hockinson Dec. 18, at Camas. Neff notched 15 points and five steals. Brown added 12 points, and Khaw had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Camas seniors Brown, Neff, McKenna and Paige Jackson, Kathryn Johnson and Kyla Sumpter have been friends since elementary school. Basketball is a big part of their lives. Last winter, they were the first Camas girls team to play in the state tournament since 1978. This season, they wear sweatshirts that say “Dare to dream.”

“When you live in a small town, you stick with your friends. We’ve been waiting for this year for a long time,” Johnson said. “Some of our best memories were on those bus rides all across the state last year. We hope we can get back there again, and go even further.”

The Papermakers return to the Nike Interstate Shootout this week, at Lake Oswego High School. Camas faces West Salem in the first round Thursday, at 10 a.m. The Papermakers also play games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“I would like to see us go out there and play hard for four days straight,” Knight said. “We want to come home from that tournament feeling like we can compete against any team we step out on the court with.”

The Camas girls are psyched for their first season in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. They will have to contend with defending state champion Skyview and longtime rival Union, but they also cannot forget about Battle Ground, Evergreen and Heritage.

Johnson said the Papermakers have to stay committed to each other. When they play together like they did against Hockinson and Hudson’s Bay, good things can happen.

“These two wins remind us why we all love basketball,” she said. “Every time we step on the court, it’s just a special feeling that we share. It’s hard to describe, but we love it.”