The Camas High School girls basketball team appeared to be on its way to another Battle Ground Tournament championship after the first quarter, but the next eight minutes changed everything.
Shredding the Papermakers with steal after steal, the host Tigers grabbed the momentum on a 14-0 scoring drive in the second quarter. Just when all hope for a Camas repeat seemed lost, Kendra Preuninger brought the Papermakers back in the game with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Sydney Allen, Lauren Neff and Melissa Williams made several acrobatic rebounds to create second and third chances, but Battle Ground pulled away for a 53-46 victory by scoring 19 points from the foul line.
“It’s a long game. We wanted to keep our composure and fight back, and we did that,” said Camas head coach Chuck Knight. “We should feel good that we came back from being down by double digits, tied it up, and gave ourselves a chance to win the game.”
The Papermakers caught fire from the opening tip off. Williams scored two points off a give-and-go, and then blocked a shot by Battle Ground on the other side. Kyla Sumpter grabbed the loose ball, and scored on a fast break to give Camas a quick 5-0 lead. Williams lunged out of bounds to make a sweet save, and kicked the ball back to a teammate for two points. Neff netted four points off a rebound and a basket, and two shots from the foul line. Preuninger nailed two 3-pointers to give the Papermakers a 17-7 advantage.
The game turned on a dime in the second quarter. The Tigers rallied back for seven points off five steals, took a 19-17 lead on a 3-pointer, and kept making baskets.
Camas got down by six, before Kayla Roche stopped the bleeding by scoring a lay up and making a foul shot for a 3-point play. The Tigers responded with two quick points off of a loose ball. Williams scrambled to score two, leaving just a few seconds on the clock. Before anyone could catch their breath, Battle Ground banked in a shot from half court to take a 28-22 lead at halftime.
The Tigers built a 12-point lead in the third quarter, before the Papermakers made an incredible comeback. It started with a 3-pointer by Preuninger, followed by a coast-to-coast drive to the hoop by Allen. Preuninger dished the ball to Neff on the run for two points. Neff returned the favor by rebounding a missed 3-point attempt by Preuninger, and kicking the ball back out to her. Preuninger did not miss the second time, and she delivered one more from downtown to bring the Papermakers within three at the end of the third.
“It felt good to hit all of those threes after that big stretch where we didn’t play well,” Preuninger said. “It makes me proud seeing my friends step up, get rebounds and put up shots.”
Back down by six points with five minutes to go in the final quarter, Camas gave one last push. Kat DeVera glided to the hoop for two points, and Sumpter added two more off of a steal. Williams rebounded a Battle Ground miss, passed the ball to Allen, and Allen delivered the hot potato to Roche for two points. DeVera nailed a pressure-packed 3-pointer to tie the game at 45-45 with less than three minutes to go. It was tied again at 46-46, when the Tigers scored seven straight points from the foul line to win the game.
“It was a game of calls,” Knight said. “Down the stretch, they got the calls and we didn’t.”
Preuninger finished with 15 points off five 3-pointers. Williams collected 6 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks. Allen also had 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks. Neff racked up 6 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Before the varsity game, the Camas junior varsity girls basketball team defeated Battle Ground 33-29 to capture the Battle Ground Tournament JV Championship. Alyse Erickson led the Papermakers with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. McKenna Jackson added 8 points and 6 rebounds, Kimi Knight grabbed 8 rebounds and Rachel Rice snatched 6 rebounds.
Orange and red will clash again tonight at Camas High School, when the Papermaker girls basketball teams host the Washougal Panthers. The freshmen tip off first at 4 p.m., followed by junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.