WASHOUGAL — The Washougal High School girls basketball team stepped off a school bus holding the same state championship trophy it left Yakima with last weekend.
The city was there to cheer them on.
Dozens, including Washougal Mayor Molly Coston, showed up for a parade to honor the high school’s first state basketball title in downtown Washougal’s Reflection Plaza on Friday afternoon as the team bus was escorted by a fire truck and police cars.
On Saturday, Washougal beat East Valley of Spokane 49-40 in overtime to win the 2A state championship.
“It’s a first for them, it’s a first for us,” Coston said. “We’ve received awards for music, theater, academics — but this really is a huge feather in our cap for the entire community. First of many.”
The idea to have a parade came on Monday, and the plans quickly came together after that, according to Rene Carroll, communications consultant for the Washougal School District.
Once the bus stopped, players, coaches and cheerleaders mingled with the crowd. The cheer team led the group in a spirited cheer. Coston addressed the team, which was wearing white matching shirts that read “state champions” in Washougal orange.
“Great teamwork,” Coston told the team, “you broke that barrier winning a state championship. There will be many, many more. We’re so proud of you.”
The player shaking the most hands Friday morning? That was 2A state tournament MVP Beyonce Bea, whose efforts led the way for the Panthers all season, culminating with a 30-point, 15-rebound showing in the state championship game.
Bea expressed gratitude for the community members, many of whom have been supporting the team throughout the season.
“It still feels like I can’t believe we won the state championship, but it’s awesome we can come out here and say ‘hi’ to our community,” Bea said. “They’ve been supporting us this whole season, so it means a lot to be able to come talk to them.”
Washougal coach Brittney Knotts described the week since the win as “surreal.”
“Walking down the halls everyone’s talking to us, congratulating us,” Knotts said. “It’s so cool because it is such a community. Everybody knows what happened and if they don’t know, there’s an assembly. Everybody will know. A week later I feel like I’m still processing it.”
The team left the parade to go around to other Washougal School District schools, culminating with a celebratory assembly at Washougal High School on Friday afternoon.