Students were out of school Monday, but not the Camas High School girls basketball team.
Two days after qualifying for the Sweet 16 for the first time in 34 years, the Papermakers got back to work. While the school’s hallways and classrooms were empty, they were bouncing basketballs in the gym during the early hours of the morning before heading back up to Clover Park High School in Lakewood to play their fourth game in six days.
“It feels good,” said senior co-captian Sydney Allen. “We haven’t been this far since ‘78.”
Allen delivered 21 points Monday to help the Papermakers defeat Lakes of Lakewood 59-56 for third-place in the bi-district tournament. Sierra Brown added 16 points off the bench. Brenna Khaw made two clutch free throws in the final 19 seconds of the game to give Camas some breathing room.
“I don’t think they overlooked this game at all. They were motivated to play,” said head coach Chuck Knight. “We had some fatigue from playing our fourth game in the last six days, but the girls gutted it out and got the win. They really wanted it, and it showed.”
The victory sets Camas (18-9) on the pathway to Bellevue Community College Saturday, to play Franklin (21-3) of Seattle. Tip off is at 6 p.m. The Papermakers must win this game to qualify for the Elite 8 double-elimination bracket.
Camas faced this loser out senario twice last week, and came through with flying colors. The Papermakers outlasted Enumclaw in overtime Wednesday by the score of 57-56. Allen made the winning basket at the free throw line with one second left on the clock.
“When we went up there last year and lost in the first round, we wanted to do everything we could to make sure that didn’t happen again,” Allen said. “That’s why that overtime win was so huge. We got the momentum on our side, and we just need to keep it going. We’re not ready for the season to end, especially me and Tatum [Schroeder].”
After a 43-40 loss to Wilson Friday, the Papermakers rebounded from a slow start in the first quarter to defeat Bremerton 53-45 Saturday to qualify for the state tournament. Knight said McKenna Jackson provided a spark off the bench. Jenka Stiasna also scored a series of baskets to help Camas go on a 10-0 run in the third quarter.
“We couldn’t dwell on the past, we just had to move forward,” Schroeder said. “I told myself Wednesday and Saturday that I could be playing my last basketball game of my life, so I better play hard. Go hard or go home.”
Allen said the victories on Saturday and Monday made the bus rides home a lot more fun. She also received text messages of support from 2011 graduates Katelyn Henson and Melissa Williams, wishing the girls the best of luck at state.
“They taught us everything we know,” Allen said. “Now it’s our turn to captian the team and take us as far as we can.”
School is back in session today. The Camas girls basketball players can finally celebrate their arrival in the Sweet 16 with their classmates and teachers. Knight is calling on the community to make the three-plus hour trip north with them Saturday.
“It would be phenominal to have a big crowd of Camas supporters cheering us on,” he said. “It’s a long drive, but we all have been waiting a long time for this.”