Bryan Butler will never forget this birthday, and neither will his best friends on the Camas basketball team.
“I had the ball in my hand as time was running out, and I couldn’t stop smiling,” Butler said. “I couldn’t believe this was happening.”
On a night when Butler turned 18, 1,800 screaming fans stood on the bleachers and the track above Friday to watch the Papermaker boys beat Mountain View 60-37 for their first district championship in 49 years.
“I don’t know how to describe how I’m feeling right now. It was the perfect birthday present for me,” Butler said. “To win districts with these guys is amazing. This is something we’ve been dreaming about since fifth grade, and it’s been a great road.”
Marc Eppinger led the Camas assault with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Michael Neff collected 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
“Dreams do come true. We changed the banner from 1962 to 2011. We’re doing big things right now,” Eppinger said. “We’re definitely brothers for life. We’re the Camas group that made history together, and we’re always going to remember that.”
Kevin Basilio netted nine points, including a roof-raising 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Addison Owen added eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
On Wednesday, Owen signed a letter of intent to play football for the University of Montana. Two days later, he had two league titles to embrace.
“This is the dream,” Owen said. “League champions in football and basketball. I feel blessed to be a part of both.”
The league title springboards the Papermakers into the district championship game Saturday, at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m.
Kelso, Prairie, Mountain and Hudson’s Bay will scramble this week to see who faces Camas Saturday.
“This was the best birthday ever, but we still got a long road ahead of us,” Butler said. “We’re ready to make more history.”
Back in pink
The Camas girls could not stop Mountain View on the basketball court Friday, but the hard work both teams put in for the past two months to raise money for breast cancer research made both teams feel like winners.
More than a thousand fans packed the warehouse pink. All of the money raised from admission, a silent auction, T-shirt sales and community donations will benefit the Kay Yow Foundation.
Kendra Preuninger scored 14 points and Sydney Schwartz added 13, but the Thunder outscored the Papermakers 18-6 in the fourth quarter to win 50-45.
“I couldn’t even hear myself think out there. It was so loud,” said senior Kayla Roche. “Every time we made a pass or a shot, the atmosphere was insane. I wish it could be like that for every game.”
Camas defeated Kelso 37-30 Monday to earn the third seed heading into the district tournament. Sydney Allen delivered 12 points and six rebounds for the Papermakers, and Lauren Neff snagged 13 rebounds.
The district tournament begins tonight at Hudson’s Bay High School. Camas plays Thursday, at 6 p.m., against the winner of tonight’s game between Fort Vancouver and Kelso.