Coach brings experience to young team

Senior point guard Haley Hanson is back to lead the offense for the final year of her high school career. Hanson has already committed to play for Northwest Nazarene University next season.

The Camas girls basketball team is headed into league play after "brutal" non-league season.

Senior Regan Cooke calls for a pass during a drill at practice in the Camas gym.

After two consecutive trips to the state championships, the Camas High School girls basketball team has a fresh look with a new head coach and — other than star point guard Haley Hanson — a new set of varsity players.

At the helm this season is Scott Thompson, who was the head boys coach at Fort Vancouver High School for nine years.

“The whole time I coached in Vancouver, I lived in Camas just a few minutes from the high school, and I have three kids growing up in Camas so this ended up being the perfect opportunity for me. It’s nice to jump over,” Thompson said.

The Papermakers may be young and most of this season’s players may lack varsity experience, but they are far from inexperienced when it comes to basketball. In fact, most players have long been on club teams.

“What I noticed right away about this program is that we are really deep with talented players,” Thompson said. “We even go into our (junior varsity) team and I think some of them should be playing varsity.”

Papermakers open with big win over Bellarmine Prep

That young talent has already been on display during the team’s first two games of the season. The Papermakers opened non-league play on Nov. 30, in a game against Silverton High, one of the best girls basketball teams in the state of Oregon.

The Papermakers lost that opening game in Silverton 68-38, but learned some lessons and bounced back during the team’s home opener the very next night.

Camas knocked off Bellarmine Prep, Washington’s No. 8-ranked 4A team, on Dec. 1.

The two teams went back and forth in the first half and the Bellarmine Prep Lions started to pull ahead in the third quarter. The Papermakers were down nine points going into the final quarter, but that’s when Camas outscored Bellarmine Prep 16-7 behind the leadership of Hanson.

The Camas point guard had five of her 15 points in the final period to lead the comeback. Camas sophomore Jalena Carlisle hit an up-and-under post move with 50 seconds left, tying the game. In overtime, Camas senior Hannah Booth hit back-to-back baskets, followed by some clutch free throws by Hanson, to seal the victory 66-63.

Camas sophomore Faith Bergstrom led the Papermakers with 19 points and 13 rebounds.

On Dec. 4, the Papermakers ran into a Jesuit High School steamroller. The Crusaders opened the game on their home floor in Beaverton, Oregon, with 16 straight points and eventually beat the Papermakers 57-27.

The Papermakers responded with two straight wins over Kelso and Sherwood.

Now, Camas is preparing for league play.

Thompson called the team’s non-league schedule “brutal, but in a very good way,” because playing some of the best teams in Oregon and Washington is the perfect way to become battle-tested.

“Sometimes, you gotta go out there and play the best so you can figure out how to get there,” Thompson said.