A large contingent of Beyonce Bea fans from Washougal were roaring with excitement inside Portland’s Viking Pavilion as Bea and the University of Idaho (UI) women’s basketball team faced off against Portland State University on Jan. 2.
For Bea, the former Washougal High School (WHS) basketball star who led the Panthers to their first state basketball championship in February 2019, the game against the Vikings was a homecoming of sorts, played at a venue close enough for Washougal fans to see Bea play at the college level.
“It was really special, just to see everyone come out and make that trip,” Bea told the Post-Record after the game, which the Vandals lost 74-53. “I could definitely hear them in the crowd when I was playing.”
After the game, friends, family and former teammates went down on the court to visit with Bea and take pictures.
“My teammates all said to me, ‘Dang, you have like half the crowd here in the stands. It’s awesome,'” said Bea, who scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Bea earns starting role as a freshman
The transition from high school to college can be a daunting one because of the increased physicality and speed that’s required to successfully play at the next level.
However, the transition has been smoother than even WHS’ most accomplished basketball player in history expected. She started working out with the Vandals in late August and earned a starting role for the first game of the season. Since then she’s made the most of her opportunities.
“I wasn’t expecting to be a starter as a freshman,” she said. “That was one of my goals that I wanted to work towards for sure, but I wasn’t expecting it.”
Bea, the WHS class of 2019’s co-valedictorian, is a big fan of setting goals, and her latest is to become even more of an offensive presence on the court. She also wants to average double figures for points and rebounds.
“As a team we would love to win the Big Sky Tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament,” she said. “That’s our biggest goal, and it would be an awesome experience, especially if it can happen my freshman year.”
It’s easy to see that Bea is already making a huge impact for the Vandals (7-5 overall, 2-1 Big Sky Conference). She leads the team in rebounds (6.7 per game), blocks (11) and made field goals (60). She’s second in scoring (12.3 points per game), field goal percentage (43 percent) and minutes played (34.7 per game), and third in assists (21) and made 3-pointers (16).
And she’s already come through in big moments. At Seattle University on Nov. 20, Bea had her best game so far, scoring 27 points, including a last-second 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. She also had 12 rebounds for her first career double-double.
On the Vandalnation.com website, UI senior guard Lizzy Klinker described Bea as a player with quiet confidence.
“She is kind of like a silent killer,” Klinker said. “She’s one of those that leads by example and works hard, that is for sure. She’s been great, and it’s really fun to have her on the team.”
Bea said Klinker and the upperclassmen have taken her under their wing.
“Lizzy told us to enjoy every moment, even the hard moments, because it goes by so fast,” Bea said.
State championship leads to college success
Playing in high-pressure situations in high school helped Bea to succeed quickly at the college level.
“Those close, tight games where you have to stay calm and push through to get the win, those things really helped me coming into my freshman year of college,” she said.
Bea also keeps close track of her former high school teammates, who got off to a slow start early in the season but recently won the Seaside Holiday Classic with victories over Madras, Rochester and Cottage Grove high schools.
“I’m really excited to see how they do,” she said. “They had a tough non-conference preseason schedule, but I think that was good to push them a little bit. They are figuring out what everyone’s role is and are getting better every game.”
The Panthers’ players were on hand to watch Bea battle the Vikings.
“This Portland game is the closest game we play to Washougal, and it was just such a cool experience to have so many people come out and support me and our team,” she said.