Dunking memories

Panther alumni reunite for a basketball game

RaeAnn Allen nails a jump shot during the Panther alumni game Friday. The 2016 Washougal High School graduate continues to pursue her love for basketball and education at the University of Puget Sound.

The love for basketball never fades at Washougal.

Nineteen graduates from the high school reunited in the Joe Brown Gymnasium Friday, to pass around their favorite toy and put it through the hoop.

This circle of Panther alums included Nathan Adams (2013 grad), Spencer Adams (2015), RaeAnn Allen (2016), Mustapha Bah (2012), Yorro Bah (2015), Brad Bea (1991), Haley Briggs (2015), Crystal Chase (2015), Cole Crosby (2013), Curtis Crosby (2016), Daniel Davis (2016), Robert Gehrke (2015), Jaden Jantzer (2013), Michael McElroy (2013), Noah Prangley (2015), Brian Oberg (1992), Brody Oberg (2016), Matt Rotundo (2016) and Ryan Taylor (2015).

“Just getting back out here, messing around with each other and competing. It’s always fun,” McElroy said. “A lot of us don’t see each other because of school and work and what not. At least we have this event to look forward to every year.”

McElroy is taking courses at Clark College. After completing the Dental Hygiene Program, the 21-year-old hopes to obtain a full-time job in this profession.

He would love the opportunity to coach basketball and share his passion with kids.

“Basketball really changed my life,” McElory said. “When we were in school, our guys played from first grade through senior year. We all stuck together.

“That’s my main group of friends,” he added. “It’s just great to have a sports platform to make friends and just go out there and talk to people.”

Even four years after his final game for the Panthers, McElory showed he still had range and agility Friday. He can even dunk the ball now, thanks to a growth spurt after high school.

“Too bad it couldn’t have happened in high school,” McElory said. “I was throwing them down in warm-ups and everybody kept telling me to get one in the game. Finally got a breakaway and just went for it.”

Allen continues to pursue her love for basketball and education at the University of Puget Sound.

She helped the Loggers win a school record 26 games, clinch their first Northwest Conference championship, and reach the Round of 32 at the NCAA Division III tournament.

“Winning is fun and all, but when you’re with such a great group of people and you have that success, it was just a really fun season to be a part of,” Allen said.

She was thrilled to be back in Washougal, where it all started.

Allen recalled a game during her sophomore year when the Panthers beat R.A. Long on a last second shot. Briggs scored the winning basket on a left-handed lay-up.

She talked about the chemistry she shared with Alyssa Blankenship, and helping the Panthers finish in fourth place at state during their senior year.

“It’s just really cool to see how much this town is behind basketball. The support system that was here when I left is definitely still here,” Allen said. “This is home. This is where I grew up. This is what I grew up doing. This is the gym I grew up in. It’s just all sorts of memories.”

She is proud of the Washougal girls basketball team for winning league and getting back to the Yakima Sun Dome for the second year in a row.

“If they keep going to state, I am going to be ecstatic because that means we started something great,” Allen said.

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