The Washougal High School boys basketball players took their lumps last season.
Heartbreaking losses to Hockinson and R.A. Long at the buzzer prevented the Panthers from reaching the playoffs. Rejuvenated with a sense of urgency, seniors Spencer Adams, Yorro Bah, Noah Prangley and Ryan Taylor are determined to get back in the hunt.
“Losing in that fashion hurt, but it also made us appreciate this game more,” Taylor said. “Our chemistry is feeling really good this year. We have the potential, we just have to work harder for it.”
Head coach Malcolm Estes believes Washougal can contend with Mark Morris, Hockinson and Ridgefield. Hudson’s Bay and Woodland are both wild cards with their additions to the 2A Greater St. Helens League. R.A. Long is also improving.
“There are no easy games in our league,” Estes said. “Making it to districts is the first step. We were close last year, but we didn’t believe we could get there. This year, the belief is strong. If we can get to districts, anything can happen.”
Estes said the Panthers took some huge steps forward in the summer, but then had to take one back when senior Patrick Jones moved to Ohio in October. Washougal still has size and speed. Josh Bischoff stands 6-feet, 5-inches and can move on the court. Adams and Taylor are both 6-4. Bah and Prangley have also proved themselves in the clutch.
“We’re a little rough around the edges and not as smooth as we have been in the past, but these guys are gamers,” Estes said. “They play hard and they play through adversity. They just make things happen.”
Bah said this year feels different. He learned from the seniors of the past, enjoyed their highs and endured their lows. Now it’s his, Adams, Prangley and Taylor’s turn to lead.
“We want to win the league,” Bah said. “This could be our best chance out of my four years in high school.”
“The belief is big. Everybody sees it,” Adams added. “We are working hard and putting in a lot of hours to make this team stronger.”
Every day counts for these seniors. So does every little thing they do.
“Whatever happens on the court, I just want to know that we did everything that we could,” Prangley said.