Heartbreak as playoff dreams dashed

Camas senior Isaiah Sampson (left) and junior Jackson Clemmer (middle) fight for rebounding position in overtime against Battle Ground on Jan. 30.

Carson Bonine challenges a Battle Ground Tiger shooter from deep in 3-point land on Jan. 30.

Camas forward Isaiah Sampson glides down the line for an easy basket, to tie the game against Battle Ground on Jan. 30. The Papermakers led the Tigers by 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers came back in overtime, defeating Camas 68-65.

Camas senior guard Josh McPhun attempts an off-balance shot against a tough Battle Ground defense in the final game of the Papermakers' season Jan. 30.

Camas senior Carson Bonine is fouled during a drive to the hoop Jan. 30, in a game against Battle Ground.

Camas senior forward Shane Jamison missed much of the season with a football injury, but returned to help his team for the final push for a postseason berth. Unfortunately, the Papermakers came up one game short.

There was a time early this season when the Camas boys basketball team was ranked among the top 10 in the state. As the season progressed, the Papermakers record shifted away from the top of the pack, and landed at 12-8 overall by the time Camas was set to play the Battle Ground Tigers on Jan. 30, for a spot in the playoffs.

Camas dominated most of the game and led the Tigers by 10 points in the fourth quarter, after Battle Ground’s leading scorer, 6’8″ Kaden Perry, left the game early with an injury.

“Obviously, their team leader is Kaden Perry, and so you think when he goes out of the game that they are going to be weakened, but they had multiple guys coming off the bench who all stepped up and really made some great plays,” Camas head boys basketball coach Ryan Josephson said.

Nearly all of those plays late in the fourth quarter and in overtime ended with clutch 3-pointers. The Tigers caught fire at the right time and shined in the spotlight, hitting long-range shots when the pressure was on, and their season appeared to be over. The flurry of 3-pointers by lesser known players caught the Papermakers by surprise and pushed the game into overtime.

In the end, the Papermakers’ dream of moving on to the playoffs was shattered on their home court, with a 68-65 loss to Battle Ground.

“It was the guys who had not been shooting well all game who suddenly got hot and caught fire,” Camas senior forward Isaiah Sampson said.

Sampson had 20 points, and Camas senior guard Carson Bonine had 13 points at the end of the Jan. 30 game.

Seniors end high school careers on home court

It was a devastating loss for a team loaded with seven seniors — all of whom ended their high school basketball careers on their home court.

Seniors Isaiah Sampson, Carson Bonine, Shane Jamison, Zach Chillian, Fox Bessinger, Mason Triplett and Josh McPhun didn’t get to end their careers with a playoff run, but their hard work and dedication will be remembered by Papermaker basketball fans.

“This group has upped the culture of this program,” Thompson said. “In their off-season commitment and the brotherhood they showed to each other and the mental resilience through adversity.”

For Sampson, who is being courted by several colleges but has yet to sign, the Papermakers will always hold a special place in his heart.

“It’s really tough, but there was a lot of love in the locker room tonight as we reminisced on the good times we had,” Sampson said. “It was cool to hear everyone talk about how much they love and care about this program.”

The locker room was filled with emotion after the Battle Ground overtime loss, and Thompson, a lifelong Papermaker, did his best to ease his players’ pain.

“As a coach, you just own it,” Thompson said. “I told them I’m sorry I couldn’t help them get a little further.”

The coach thanked the players for staying strong and resilien despite adversity, and said his players never gave up or started pointing fingers, but came to practice and worked harder every day.

“You want so badly for things to work out for them,” Thompson said. “You hope the karma will work out in their favor because they earned it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.”