Playing the No. 1 team in the state is always a monumental task, and Camas has now faced that challenge inside their own league twice this season.
On Friday, Jan. 18, the undefeated Union Titans proved why they are ranked No. 1 in Washington State’s 4A classification with a convincing 82-68 win over the Papermakers.
Union’s shooting ace, Ethan Smith, broke the Titans all-time single-game record for 3-pointers with eight, on his way to a game-high 28 points as Union notched another win extending their streak to 17-0 this season.
“I knew we couldn’t let Ethan Smith shoot, but he kept finding his openings and stretching further and further out,” Camas head boys basketball coach Ryan Josephson said after the game.
The Papermakers’ game plan defensively was to keep the Union players from penetrating into the paint, making it harder to kick the ball outside to their 3-point shooters.
The plan worked in the first half and Camas was within one point at the break.
Then, in the second half, the Titans came out of the locker room and aggressively attacked the paint with dribble penetration, which in turn created more outside shots and let Smith take advantage of his opportunities.
Union’s aggressiveness on offense carried over to the team’s defense, which led to Camas turnovers.
“It’s one thing to trade baskets with Union, but when you give them more on top of that because of turnovers it’s just too much because they are the complete package,” Josephson said.
Camas senior Isaiah Sampson led the Papermakers with 20 points.
Tough challenges ahead in push for playoffs
Camas plays in the 4A Greater St. Helen’s League, which has been among the toughest leagues in the state so far this season.
Union, Camas, Skyview and Battle Ground have all been ranked among the top 10 teams in the state for much of the season.
Only three of these teams, however, will have the opportunity to continue into the playoffs.
After a string of league losses, Camas will need to start beating rival teams to make it into the postseason.
Camas lost to Skyview in their first meeting this season, even though the Papermakers led the Storm for much of the game. Camas also lost to Battle Ground by just one point, and Union took care of the Papermakers during their first meeting back in December.
Those league losses have put Camas in a must-win situation as they face their rivals for a second time in the coming weeks, but coach Josephson said his team is more than ready for the challenge.
“Adversity shows the character of your team, and the one thing I know about our guys is they are high-character young men,” Josephson said. “I’m super proud to be their coach and have no question they will fight.”