The Camas High School girls basketball team saved its best for last, even without its best player.
The Papermakers won three of their four games at the 4A Hardwood Classic, held from March 2-7, at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington, to take fourth place, the best state tournament finish in the history of the program.
And they did it without the services of sophomore forward Addison Harris, the 4A Greater St. Helens most valuable player, who recently injured her foot.
“(They) were all pretty much freshmen and sophomores, and the best way that I can put it is we didn’t look like a team that was in the dome for the very first time,” Camas coach Scott Thompson said. “The shocking thing with how it turned out was that we came in with a ton of adversity. We got word that (Addison) wasn’t going to play, and we had to get girls ready to replace an absolute monster of a player. But I feel like we played our best basketball of the entire season without her. I feel like the dome, in many ways, brought out the best in us. We hit tough shots, moved the basketball and played together.”
Camas (19-9) beat Bellmarine Prep 59-53 in a first-round loser-out game, lost to Sumner 66-57 in a quarterfinal contest, defeated Lake Stevens 54-39 in a consolation loser-out match-up and vanquished Richland 49-45 in a fourth/sixth-place game.
“It was heartbreaking to lose to Sumner, but I think we were more defined on that trip by how we rallied and bounced back from that loss,” Thompson said. “I look at some of the ‘what-ifs,’ and it’s hard. But I don’t get caught up in them because of how great the week was in general for our program.”
Camas overcame a poor shooting performance against eighth-seeded Bellarmine Prep, a team that it beat by 22 in December and lost to by eight in February, thanks to a stellar defensive performance.
With the win, the ninth-seeded Papermakers advanced to the quarterfinal round to face No. 2 seed Sumner, which Thompson knew would present perhaps the toughest challenge of the season.
Camas proved to be up for the challenge until overtime, when it missed every one of the 10 shots it attempted from the field.
The Papermakers bounced back the next day, setting 4A tournament records for 3-pointers in a game (12) and tournament (31, a number they extended to 37 the next day) against No. 4 seed Lake Stevens.
“It was just lightning in a bottle. I thought we played the best game of the season against Sumner, but we came back the next day against a 20-3 Lake Stevens team and lit them up in a very comfortable win. Now I think maybe that was the best game of our season Thompson said.
The win kept the Papermakers’ season alive and guaranteed that they’d come home with a state trophy. But going into their final game against seventh-seeded Richland, a contest that would determine which trophy they’d come home with, Thompson implored his players to not settle for sixth place and finish the season in winning style.
The Papermakers took his message to heart by taking a big early lead, then holding on in the fourth quarter thanks to a clutch performance from sophomore guard Reagan Jamison, who made four free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to hold off a furious Richland comeback.
“Here’s the crazy thing — we come out at 8 a.m. and jump them right out of the chute, just like we did in (the previous three) games up there,” Thompson said. “The score was so much closer than the actual game. We were up 14 at two different points in the fourth quarter, but they started fouling at the end and we could not make free throws. They came down and hit some massive deep 3s to make the game look a little closer than it was.
“But I thought the coolest thing was when the ball was in Regan’s hands, she stepped up and nailed all the free throws, just like she had all week. I thought that was a fitting end to the season, her on the free throw line and closing that thing off.”
“It’s a very special group and it was a very special season for them, so it doesn’t surprise me that they’re already putting their eyes onto the future and setting goals for next year, because I don’t think there’s a lot that can keep us from coming back,” Thompson said.
Washougal girls fail to place at 2A state tournament
The Washougal High School girls basketball team’s season ended with a 42-41 loss to Archbishop Murphy in a loser-out consolation contest at the 2A Hardwood Classic at the Yakima SunDome in Yakima, Washington, on Friday, March 4.
The Panthers (17-7) returned to Washougal without a trophy in their first state tournament appearance since 2019, when they won the first state title in school history.
Washougal, the tournament’s No. 7 seed, opened tournament play with a 47-31 win over 10th-seeded White River in a loser-out contest on Wednesday, March 2, thanks to a stifling defensive performance — the Hornets scored no more than nine points in any quarter and shot 27.5% from the field, including 1 for 12 from 3-point range.
But the Panthers couldn’t keep up with Burlington-Edison, the tournament’s No. 8 seed, the next day in a quarterfinal contest. The Tigers sprinted to an 11-0 lead, led by as many as 23 points in the first half and went on to a 53-33 victory.
Washougal had a great opportunity to defeat No. 5 seed Archbishop Murphy the next day to keep its season alive and advance to the fourth/sixth-place game, but fell just short in a second half that featured several lead changes.
Washougal’s group of departing seniors includes Jaiden Bea, a University of Idaho commit, and Savea Mansfield, who will continue her career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Bea finished her prep career with 1,174 points, the fourth most in program history, and first in 3-pointers (110). She’s also among the school’s career leaders in rebounds (757, third), steals (205, fourth), assists (190, fourth) and blocks (99, third).
Mansfield finished with 908 points, the sixth most in program history, and 77 3-pointers, behind only Bea.