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On a team lacking size, Camas boys basketball looks to play to other strengths

Papermakers top R.A. Long ahead of upcoming test at The Hardwood Invite in Seattle

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 13, 2022, 11:00pm
5 Photos
Camas senior center Josh Dabasinskas, left, looks to make a pass out of the post while being defended by R.A. Long’s Jaxson Cook in a non-league boys basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, at Camas High School.
Camas senior center Josh Dabasinskas, left, looks to make a pass out of the post while being defended by R.A. Long’s Jaxson Cook in a non-league boys basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, at Camas High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — To call the Camas boys basketball team undersized is an understatement, Papermakers head coach Ryan Josephson says.

In their fourth game of the season Tuesday night against R.A. Long, the Papermakers started four guards who stand between 6-foot and 6-foot-2 — Beckett Currie, Matthew Chilian, Jace VanVoorhis, Theo McMillan — and 6-foot-2 center Josh Dabasinskas.

“It’s something that we’re still trying to figure out,” Josephson said. “We’ve seen size pretty much every game that we’ve played against, and the things that are going to help us overcome that are going to be playing to our strengths with ball pressure, with speed, with attacking those mismatches that are created on the opposite side of that. And then certainly, it’s going to require greater team defense. We’re going to have to disrupt teams that want to play through size.”

Though Camas may lack size on paper, the team is capitalizing on its strengths.

The Papermakers faced a five-point deficit midway through the second quarter against a hot-shooting Lumberjacks team, then finished the half on a 14-0 run to take command of the game. They never trailed again in an eventual 75-58 win paced by 27 points from Currie, a sophomore, plus McMillan’s 15 points and 14 points from Dabasinskas.

A portion of the Papermakers’ core, including the three aforementioned players, returned from a team that went 20-4 and fell one win shy of the Class 4A state tournament in a 97-95 loss at Graham-Kapowsin.

The difference was, that team largely ran through seniors Carson Frawley and Stephen Behil, both of whom are now playing college basketball and Chaminade and Whitworth, respectively.

Naturally, some thought Camas could experience somewhat of a drop-off this season. So far, the Papermakers haven’t seen one. They’re simply a different

“No hard feelings with Carson or Stephen, those are some of my super close friends, but I think we overestimated how much of a gap there was. The reality is, the gap isn’t as big as we thought it was,” Currie said. “Height-wise, we’re still working on boxing out and figuring out how we’re gonna utilize our speed even more, now that we’re a smaller team. But scoring-wise, I feel like I’ve picked up a lot of the load this year, and that’s just hard work in the offseason. Jace has been amazing. Theo has been amazing. Josh has been amazing. We’ve missed (Jamison Carlisle) for the start of the year and people are going to be really surprised with the improvements he’s made as a scorer.”

Dabasinskas added: “This team is like a family to me, and to everyone else as well. We lost some very powerful seniors last year, but the seniors coming in this year really learned from those guys and started teaching their ways to the underclassmen. It really brought everyone together.”

Tuesday’s game against R.A. Long, which finished fifth at the Class 2A state tournament in March, was the Papermakers’ final tune-up before heading north to Seattle for the Hardwood Invite Dec. 17-20. Camas opens against Silas, and the field also features a strong group of Washington teams including Garfield, King’s, Roosevelt, Bellevue and Tumwater.

“Certainly our goal right now is to get on the winning side of the bracket, because that means we’re going to be playing against the best teams,” Josephson said. “That’s really want we want — to measure ourselves and figure out where do we have to continuing improving further as we get ready for (4A Greater St. Helens League) play and, hopefully, a playoff push.”

CAMAS 75, R.A. LONG 58

R.A. LONG — Lonnie Brown Jr. 12, Jaxon Cook 4, Jacob Gabbard 13, Cavin Holden 22, TraMayne Jenkins 0, Aeybel Milian 4, Payton Thill 3. Totals 20 (14) 4-7 58.

CAMAS — Beckett Currie 27, Konnor Limnell 0, Matthew Chillian 9, Jace VanVoorhis 7, Theo McMillan 15, Josh Dabasinskas 14, Ethan Harris 3. Totals 32 (8) 3-4 75.

R.A. Long 17 10 23 8—58

Camas 17 19 22 17—75

JV — 59-45 Camas