Prairie is the class of the 3A Greater St. Helens girls basketball league, but Camas remains a close rival.
The Falcons defeated the Papermakers 59-42 Friday, at Fort Vancouver High School, to win their 14th district championship in the past 15 seasons. Camas was the only team to stop the streak in 2010. Since then, Prairie has won the last six contests between these two teams.
It was no different Friday. The Falcons gained a 12-5 advantage out of the gate, before the Papermakers got back within two points before the end of the first quarter. Brenna Khaw nailed a huge 3-pointer and Jenka Stiasna brought down a big rebound, drew a foul and made both shots from the free-throw line.
Camas would not get any closer. Prairie put together an 18-4 scoring drive in the second quarter before Kendra Preuninger hit a 3-pointer for Camas before halftime. The Falcons opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run. By the fourth quarter, they led by 20.
Preuninger led the Papermakers with 14 points on four 3-pointers. Sierra Brown added 10 points and Stiasna chipped in eight.
When the Camas and Kelso girls faced each other for the second time in four days Thursday, the Papermakers prevailed 54-43 on 17 points by Sydney Allen, 13 from Stiasna and 12 by Khaw. Brown came through with three rebounds and putbacks for nine points and Preuninger added three points.
Kelso capitalized on eight Camas turnovers to build a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Down 21-15 at halftime, the Papermakers went into the locker room and regrouped.
“We talked about overcoming adversity, sticking together and executing what we practiced,” said head coach Chuck Knight. “When you’re 0 percent from the foul line and your posts are in foul trouble, it seems like there’s a lot going wrong. We kept our composure and we stuck together.”
Stiasna scored six straight points out of the gate in the third quarter to tie the game. Kelso reclaimed the lead, but Stiasna netted two more points to tie the score again. She wound up with 12 of her 13 points in the third quarter.
“Jenka kind of took them out of that zone that was working so well for them,” Knight said. “One thing you can always count on, Jenka will play hard no matter how many fouls she has.”
When the Hilanders went back up by two points, Khaw hit a big 3-pointer to give Camas a one-point lead. Brown then grabbed a rebound and scored two points to put the Papermakers up 34-31 heading into the final quarter.
Allen delivered nine of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to help Camas pull away. Brown grabbed a missed shot off the glass, put it back in the net for two points, drew a foul and made a free throw for a 3-point play. Before that, the Papermakers were 0-for-7 from the foul line. Khaw intercepted a long Kelso pass, dribbled the ball down court and served it to Allen for two points. Allen added four more points to put the Papermakers up by 11.
Camas enters the bi-district tournament as the number-two seed. The Papermakers play Enumclaw Wednesday, at Clover Park High School in Lakewood. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
“We need to do three things. Play hard, play smart and play together,” Knight said. “That’s our key to going further than we did last year.