In his 13th year teaching at Camas High School, Scott Preuninger is thrilled to be the head coach of the Papermaker girls basketball team.
“I’ve been out of the gym for four years, but it feels like I never left,” he said. “These girls have accepted me from the very beginning, which is nice. I’ve had so many kids, parents and teachers come up to me and say ‘Welcome back coach. This is where you belong.'”
Preuninger led the boys program for eight years before stepping down to watch his own children play basketball in high school and college. He returns to take over a girls program at Camas that made it to the first round of the state tournament for the second time since 2012.
“It’s a little bit of a transition for me after coaching boys basketball teams for the last 20-something years,” Preuninger said. “I’m proud of the attitude and the hard work from these girls every day. I’ve been throwing a lot of stuff at them these last two weeks. Probably too much.
“I hope I’m giving these girls the confidence to just go out and play,” he added. “You want them to be successful, but you also want them to enjoy what they’re doing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. We’ll talk about them, learn from those mistakes and grow together.”
Preuninger said he has a solid group of Papermakers to work with. Noora Monghate is the only senior on the team, but she said she will share the leadership responsibilities with juniors Meghan Finley, Emma Jones and Teague Schroeder. Sophomore posts Madison Freemon and Courtney Clemmer are building on strong freshmen seasons.
Monghate said reaching the state tournament last season was a nice send-off for graduates Nikki Corbett and Brenna Khaw. It also gives the Papermakers a higher basket to shoot for this season.
“It was really tough to lose that game. No one was happy with the result,” Monghate said. “We’ve been to open gyms and summer camps, and we’ve pushed harder in practice to improve our shooting, passing and defense. We’re ready for the games now.”
Camas will be challenged right out of the gate. After opening the season at home tonight against Columbia River, the Papermakers head to Prairie Thursday and Hockinson Monday. Then, comes a battle at Jesuit Friday, Dec. 11, a top-ranked team from Beaverton, Oregon.
Schroeder said the Papermakers are comfortable with being the underdogs this season. They are ready to prove themselves against Skyview, Union, Mountain View and the rest of the teams in league.
“Every day, we are working hard to reach our one goal,” Schroeder said. “Growing as a person and as a team is awesome. That’s the best part about basketball.”
Jones takes a lot of pride in playing basketball for the Papermakers.
“There are so many people who have helped me throughout my basketball career. Wearing that uniform is a symbol of all the people in this community who have helped me get to this stage,” she said. “You just have to give it your all in every situation, because you never know if this could be your last game.”