Amid the pandemic, there seems to be only one game being played these days — the waiting game.
But when making plans for her college future, Skylar Bea saw no point in waiting.
Last month, the Washougal High School junior made a verbal commitment to play basketball at Idaho.
“Obviously with the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t know if we will have this last AAU basketball season, and that kind of limits how many coaches can see you play,” Bea said. “And I already pretty much knew that I wanted to go to Idaho, so I just thought ‘Why not commit now?’ ”
Bea did have a little inside information on the Vandals basketball program, her sister Beyonce Bea, who is completing her freshman year at Idaho.
“I went to a lot of (Beyonce’s) games this past season, and I met some of the team and the coaches, and I’ve been on campus a lot,” Skylar Bea said. “She had a great first season there, so I knew it was a good school.”
Beyonce Bea appeared in all 31 games for Idaho, averaging 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Vandals (22-9).
“Overall, for my freshman year, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity or experience,” Beyonce Bea said. “The team did really well. We did what we wanted to in reaching that (Big Sky) championship game. We just didn’t get to play in it.”
Idaho opened the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise with a 56-54 win over Portland State on March 10. The next day, the Vandals beat Idaho State 66-51 to advance to the title game on March 13 against top-seeded Montana State.
But on March 12, it was announced that the championship game would be canceled. Soon after, the NCAA scrubbed all postseason tournaments, including the NCAA Tournament.
“That was devastating for us to hear because the whole season we had worked to get to that point and play for the championship, hopefully win that game and get to the NCAA Tournament,” Beyonce said. “That was our team goal the whole entire season, so when we got there and didn’t even get to play, it was a pretty hard and emotional time for us. We didn’t really see it coming or expect it to happen so fast.”
But Beyonce said she could look back at her freshman season at Idaho and still come away with plenty of highlights and good memories.
“Getting to play in front of friends and family at Portland State, even though we lost, but just getting to see everyone there supporting me was a highlight,” Beyonce said. “And then the game in Seattle against Seattle University, I also had family from Seattle come out to watch me play. It was a double-overtime thriller and a win for us.
“Also, our win over Montana State. They were the No. 1 team in the conference, and we were the only team to beat them in the regular season. That was another double-overtime game, so that was another big highlight for the team and for me personally.”
Beyonce had a season-high 30 points plus 10 rebounds in a win at Sacramento State on Feb. 22. She scored 26 points in the double-OT win over Montana. Against Seattle, in just the fourth game of her college career, she had 27 points and a season-best 12 rebounds.
Beyonce said the physicality and speed of the college game were the biggest things she needed to adjust to after a stellar high school career at Washougal.
“You are playing against people who are just as big and just as skilled as you, so the physicality was for sure an adjustment,” she said. “And the speed of the game. You have to be able to run and move the ball really fast, get up and down the court a lot faster than in high school.”
Beyonce’s major is in exercise science through physical therapy with an emphasis on pre-med. She has plans on attending medical school after she’s done at Idaho.
Having been a Running Start student in high school allowed her to jump right into major specific classes at Idaho.
“The classes have been challenging, but doable,” Beyonce said, “and fun, too. I like campus life, and living in the dorm with my teammates was awesome.”
Beyonce returned to Washougal in mid-March and is completing her freshman-year studies from home. She will remain home for the summer, while still working out to stay in shape.
“I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, which is great,” Beyonce said. “But at the same time, you only get four years at college and only one freshman year. Also, some of my friends from the dorm are transferring, so I don’t get to see them anymore. That’s a bummer.”
Starting the 2021-22 school year, Beyonce will have another familiar face at school in her sister. The last time the two played together on the same team, Washougal High School won the 2A state championship in 2019.
“Beyonce and me are really close,” Skylar said. “We never fought that often growing up. And Idaho was great for me. … So I thought why not go with her. It was fun experience playing with her in high school.”
During the lockdown, the sisters have been working out together, getting shots up against each other at a half-court setup in the barn at their cousins’ place just up the road in Washougal. And the chance to continue that at Idaho sounds great to Beyonce.
“I’m super happy about that because I love to play with her,” Beyonce said. “We get along super great and a lot of good things happened when we played together in the last time in high school. I expect good things to happen in college, too.”