The Papermaker Warehouse was bursting at the seams with love for basketball Friday night.
The Camas High School boys pushed the defending and unbeaten league champions to the brink, before the Union Titans escaped with a 58-54 victory. The Papermakers trailed by 12 points after the first quarter, but trimmed it down to one in the last minute.
“We gave up 23 points in the first quarter, but the guys persevered,” said Camas head coach Skyler Gillispie. “They kept battling and they kept fighting. That was a fun game to be a part of.”
The standing room only crowd on both sides of the gym didn’t let up for a second, and neither did the players.
“It was a good high school environment,” Gillispie said. “I appreciate all the people coming out for both schools.”
Ethan Unger, Jake Hansel, Tanner Fogle, Alex Glikbarg, Bryan Nguyen, Cooper McNatt and Brock Fielding all hit pressure packed shots for the Papermakers.
“At the end of the first quarter, we only had three assists. By halftime, we had 10,” Gillispie said. “Our guys were sharing the ball, and that changed the whole dynamic of the game.”
Unger nailed four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. His final shot from long range bounced around the rim before settling in the basket to bring Camas within one point with 42.8 seconds left. Unger landed awkward after the play and had to come out with a leg cramp.
“I’m really glad it went in. As soon as I came down, it really tightened up,” Unger said. “I’m really blessed it wasn’t anything worse than that.”
Hansel scored 11 points on threes, steals and drives to the hoop. Nguyen earned eight points off rebounds and put backs. Fogle and Glikbarg drained big threes and finished with six points each. McNatt came through with a block, forced turnover and a 12-foot jumper on the other end. Fielding also netted a key basket down the stretch.
“We really did a good job in the second half of being the aggressors,” Unger said. “I’m really proud of the way we played. It’s only going to make us hungrier for the league games ahead. We know we’re going to see them again.”
This was the first loss for the Papermaker boys since the new year started. After starting the season out 0-6, Camas has won nine of its last 11 games to rise above .500.
One of the biggest wins of the season occurred Jan. 19, at Evergreen High School. The Papermakers knocked off the Plainsmen 58-56 in crunch time.
Hansel scored 26 points, and Fogle hit a 3-pointer to break the tie with seven seconds left in the game. Hansel blocked the last shot by Evergreen to solidify the victory.
“It was a nice, redemption win,” Hansel said. “We lost to them by two points at home, last time. Then, we beat them by two in their house. The roles reversed. It was nice to get the win we needed.”
Hansel had the hot hand for the Papermakers all night long. He had a good look at the basket with time ticking down in the fourth quarter of a tie game, but he missed the shot. Matt Murphy grabbed the rebound to keep the play alive for Camas. He passed the ball to Unger, who found Fogle open on the wing. Fogle rose up and fired.
“It felt good right when I let go of the ball,” he said. “It was even better when it went in.”
The win extended the Papermaker streak to six games, and improved their record to 9-8.
“After grinding it out in practice and in the games every day, it feels great to see the winning numbers,” Fogle said. “It also shows how much we can accomplish. We can’t settle on this. We have to keep working harder for the next game.”
Girls beat Titans
The Camas girls defeated Union 51-42 Friday. Emma Jones delivered 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Stephanie Knight added 14 points and Madison Freemon netted 11.
“They’re our rivals,” Jones said. “We knew we had to give it our all and never back down.”
The Titans charged to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter before the Papermakers pushed back. Teague Schroeder nailed two 3-pointers during a 17-8 turnaround by Camas. Knight grabbed an offensive rebound as the final seconds in the first half ticked down, and put it back up for two points before the halftime buzzer sounded. The Papermakers went into the locker room with a four-point lead.
“It feels good to win those rebounds,” Knight said. “It’s just another possession to gain some more points.”
Union hung with Camas throughout in third quarter, but the Papermakers pulled away in the fourth. Meghan Finley drew the eye of the defenders and set Jones up with an open lane to the basket. Knight then picked up a loose ball and put it back in the net for two more points. Finley cut by the defenders and finished strong at the hoop. Jones and Freemon added insurance baskets to cap off the victory.
Skyview is the only team in the league to earn a victory against Camas. The Papermakers set their sights on the rematch Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m., at Skyview High School.
“I hope we keep growing as a team, and continue to share the basketball,” Jones said. “We can always get better.”