A wild night in the Camas warehouse

The Panther girls rallied to take the lead before the Papermakers finished strong

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Melissa Williams scores two points for the Papermakers in a seesaw match up with the Washougal Panthers Dec. 28, at Camas High School. The Papermakers prevailed over their long time rivals 48-41.

Word around town is the Camas and Washougal sports rivalry is not what it used to be, but 16 minutes of girls basketball between the two high schools on Dec. 28 showed everything it could still be.

A strong fourth quarter propelled the Papermakers to a 48-41 victory at Camas High School, but not before the Panthers roared back from 10 points down to take the lead twice.

“It’s very exciting seeing our kids step up when it easily could have gone the other way,” said Washougal head coach Charlie Boyce. “It reverberates the belief that we can compete every time we step on to the floor.”

Three-point bombs by Darcy Akers and Savannah McDowell had Camas running for cover in the third quarter. Megan Townsend hit McDowell on the run for two points to give Washougal a 30-29 lead, but Melissa Williams tied the game up for Camas at the foul line.

The Panthers and Papermakers each had 30 points on the scoreboard heading into the fourth quarter. It was anybody’s ball game. Fans of both schools were getting behind their team on every possession.

“I can’t remember the last time we played Washougal. Maybe it was my freshman year?” Williams said. “It was nice to have a competitive game with them. It got a little heated, but that makes it more fun.”

Townsend spun around Williams to score the leading basket for the Panthers, but Kendra Preuninger delivered from long range to put the Papermakers back up by one.

After some breathtaking misses by both teams, Camas pulled away on the some clutch baskets by Williams and Lauren Neff, and foul shots by Preuninger and Sydney Allen. Townsend powered in six points down the stretch, and Akers and McDowell combined for five points at the foul line, but Washougal ran out of time.

“That was one of the most fun games I’ve played,” Townsend said. “I thought we would have it. It was so close.”

Townsend finished with 10 points for Washougal. McDowell added 8 points, Kendall Utter chipped in 7 and Akers and Lauryl Ault each scored 6.

“I’m always proud to be a Panther, tonight especially,” Townsend said.

“It’s an honor to coach a team that doesn’t quit,” Boyce added.

Washougal hosts Woodland Friday. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m.

Williams anchored the Camas attack with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. Neff delivered 13 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks off the bench.

“[Neff] had a fantastic game. She was flying all around the place,” Williams said. “It’s exciting when you see the younger girls stepping up and finding their own games. I’m really excited to see what they can do in the future.”

The Papermakers blew the Hockinson Hawks out of the warehouse Thursday, winning by the score of 66-26. Camas led 24-4 after the first quarter, and never looked back. Preuninger netted 17 points on five 3-pointers. Williams added 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Kayla Roche chipped in 13 points and 5 rebounds. Neff and Sydney Schwartz each grabbed 6 rebounds, and Kat DeVera snatched 4 steals.

A 22-point third quarter helped the Papermaker freshmen girls beat Hockinson 36-9 for the Kelso Holiday Tournament championship.

Camas jumps into the fire of Greater St. Helens when it hosts Columbia River tonight and Hudson’s Bay Thursday, before playing at Prairie Saturday. All three games begin at 7 p.m.

“I’m excited for every game,” Williams said. “We have to treat every game like it’s our number-one competitor.”