PUYALLUP — Scott Preuninger had trouble finding words.
Answering questions about Camas’ 39-38 loss to Kentlake in Saturday’s Class 4A girls regional girls basketball game proved difficult for the Papermakers’ coach.
The stats, however, spoke volumes.
Twenty-five offensive rebounds allowed, 21 turnovers committed, missed easy baskets and a failure to get a shot off in the final possession now means the Papermakers (16-8) are staring at a 9 p.m. loser-out game Wednesday to open the Hardwood Classic against Eastlake of Sammamish at the Tacoma Dome.
What made the loss to the Falcons (22-5) harder for Preuninger to swallow was, after his team’s 13-game winning streak before last weekend’s 41-37 loss to Bellarmine Prep in the bi-district title game, was a performance like Saturday heading into the Hardwood Classic.
“To lose a game of this magnitude,” Preuninger said, “the way we lost it. … Maybe it’s lack of experience. I don’t know.
For the final possession, Preuninger took partial blame for the play breaking down. The coach called timeout with 4.4 seconds left with Camas trailing by one, and drew up what he described as a familiar play in-bounded at Camas bench. Two Papermakers touched the ball after the inbounds, yet no shot was taken.
It was a vastly different ending to a fourth-quarter start in Camas’ favor.
In a back-and-forth game with no lead more than two possessions after the first quarter, momentum was with Camas after Maggie Wells’ three-point play 11 seconds into the final eight minutes gave the Papermakers their largest lead at 34-29.
But Camas shot 6 of 24 in the second half, and while Kentlake didn’t fare much better, shooting 24.6 percent for the game (15 of 61), it used its physicality inside to muster four field goals in the paint in the fourth quarter, and took the lead for good on two free throws by Aniston Denckla (game-high 15 points).
On the flip side, Camas’ final five possessions featured three turnovers, and a missed breakaway layup off a steal inside 20 seconds to go.
“I hate to say we gave it away,” Preuninger said.
Then assistant coach Randy Rice chimed in.
“But I feel like we did,” he said.
Jillian Webb, Madison Freemon and Haley Hanson each had seven points for Camas.
KENTLAKE 39, CAMAS 38
CAMAS — Jillian Webb 7, Teague Schroeder 5, Haley Hanson 7, Marianna Payne 0, Maggie Wells 5, Emma Jones 3, Madison Freemon 7, Courtney Clemmer 4. Totals 14 (5) 5-7 38.
KENTLAKE — Anna Kruse 0, Toni Thibert 0, Kiernen Denckla 2, Aniston Denckla 15, Kylee Johnson 2, Aolani Talamaivao-Calderon 9, Gabby Bruno 2, Jada Leonard 8. Totals 15 (2) 7-14 39.
Camas 11 10 8 9–38
Kentlake 10 10 11 8–39