Camas captures Class 4A state title in girls basketball

Papermakers top Gonzaga Prep, 57-41, for first title

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Camas senior Riley Sanz (3) lifts the state championship trophy in front of the Camas student section Saturday, March 2, 2024, after the Papermakers’ 57-41 win against Gonzaga Prep in the 4A WIAA State Basketball championship game at the Tacoma Dome. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian)

TACOMA — Well after the Class 4A girls basketball state championship game ended Saturday night, after the locker-room celebration wrapped up and posing for photos with the state championship trophies finished, Camas High senior Reagan Jamison still had trouble finding the words on what being a state champion to cap her high school career meant to her.

“The feeling is unmatchable,” Jamison said.

She wasn’t the only one to be moved by the moment.

As soon as the final horn sounded in a 57-41 Papermakers’ victory over Gonzaga Prep at the Tacoma Dome, the same tears of disappointment from players’ faces from last season’s title-game loss had a different meaning when it was the Camas’ turn to cut down the nets.

“Tears of joy,” Jamison said, “and tears of gratefulness. We’re a family and we love each other so much.”

It’s the 18th time a team from Clark County won a state title in boys or girls basketball. It’s also the first Class 4A champion from the area since Skyview’s girls won it in 2012.

How does the reality of being a state champion compare to the long-awaited dream?

Pretty darn good, said senior Addison Harris. Camas’ goal is finished.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group to do it with,” she said. “It seemed like a far-away dream my freshman year. It wasn’t even a thought in middle school. Growing up with these girls my entire life, it’s an honor to be with them.”

Harris, with 12 points and eight rebounds Saturday, said last year’s title-game experience — a 48-41 loss to Eastlake — meant a sense of composure this time around playing in back-to-back state championship games.

Perhaps that’s why Camas played nearly lights-out in the first half, which included a 20-0 scoring run and holding Gonzaga Prep to without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes. Camas held a commanding 39-17 halftime advantage.

A big part of that was the play of Jamison. After a career-high seven assists in Camas’ quarterfinal win, 15 of her 17 points came in the first half.

But Gonzaga Prep quickly made it a game again, thanks to ninth-grader Aylah Cornwall. She scored 10 quick points in the third quarter as Gonzaga Prep cut into the deficit. It got as close as 12 twice.

Then in the fourth, it was a defensive battle. Camas began 0 of 8 from the field, and the lead still only at 12 at 48-36 before Parker Mairs’ field goal with 3:18 to play was the first of three straight Camas field goals.

By the time Riley Sanz scored her 10th point with 2:09 to go, Camas’ lead was 53-38.

Soon, it was celebration time.

“I’m so proud of all of our teammates,” junior Sophie Buzzard said. “We worked hard and we did it together.”

Camas (22-6) perhaps cemented itself as Washington’s top team in 2024 across all classifications.

Later on Saturday night on the same floor, Garfield, a team Camas defeated in a mid-January game, won its fourth consecutive Class 3A state title.

East of the mountains in Yakima, Lynden beat reigning two-time 2A champion Ellensburg in the 2A title game to snap the Bulldogs’ 75-game winning streak.

But Camas’ path to winning its first title in program history was unmatched by any of this year’s champions.

After falling in last year’s title game, the Papermakers built this season’s non-league schedule stacked with tough challenges. It included two nationally-acclaimed tournaments in their pursuit of a title in 2024.