PORTLAND — A dream for Demaree Collins and his Skyview boys basketball teammates became reality on Saturday night at the Moda Center.
In the second quarter of a game against Westview (Ore.) played on the home floor of the Portland Trail Blazers, Collins grabbed a steal with an open path to the basket.
The 6-foot-2 junior elevated and threw down a powerful dunk, before the Storm took a charge on their next defensive possession. The sequence was one of several sparks for the Storm in an eventual 64-49 win, which improved their season record to 5-0.
“It’s a dream,” Collins said while standing on the court after the game. “I always wanted to go to the NBA, be in the dunk contest and do stuff like that. My team came out and put their bodies on the line. That’s how we got the win.”
The game was part of an event organized by Pure Focus Sports called “Court Of Dreams,” wherein eight high school basketball games were played on Saturday between teams from Washington and Oregon.
In 11 seasons as Skyview’s head coach, Matt Gruhler said Saturday was the first time his team had been part of such a game played at the Moda Center. The date was circled on the Storm’s calendar from the start of the season.
“Our kids were really looking forward to it, and I think they were really excited to get on the big floor just to experience it,” Gruhler said. “Walking in, you could tell they were looking around, just enjoying the ambiance. And they played with a lot of energy. It was really fun to be able to come here, not only be able to play in the same place the Blazers play, but to play well.”
Both teams needed some time to adjust to the surroundings and the larger court size during a low-scoring first quarter that Skyview led 12-10 at the end of.
“It was a different experience,” Skyview senior Joshua Chatman said. “Obviously the court is wider, we got the NBA 3-point line, so it was a little bit harder. But it was really fun (playing) in the bright lights and everything. It was a good experience.”
However, the Storm started to find their footing during the second quarter to take a 10-point lead at halftime, then outscored the Wildcats 24-11 in the third and carried a commanding 53-30 lead to the fourth.
Collins led Skyview with 33 points, and in all, eight Skyview players saw at least one shot drop through the NBA regulation baskets: Collins, Chatman, Sam Sheppert, Gavin Packer, Gavin Perdue, Javen Fletch, Ryan Hanson and Malakai Weimer.
“I would say it was a big adjustment,” Collins said, “because at school, (the gym), it’s lower. Coach told us not to shoot 3s, so we just took it in, played off (each other) and got the win.”
Collins hit all five of the team’s 3-pointers from NBA range (the arc radius of the NBA 3-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches, 4 feet longer than high school), but for the rest of the team, Skyview coaches emphasized attacking the basket and pushing ahead in transition. The end result was 34 points in the paint and 25 free-throw attempts, more than doubling Westview’s 11 free throws.
“Other than Demaree, who hit some 3s, we basically said, everybody else just look to attack and get in the paint,” Gruhler said. “In the first quarter, you that line and you kind of remember what Damian Lillard does and all those guys. You go, ‘I can do that,’ and they can, but consistently with tired legs, with a team that presses, that’s a tough thing to do when you’re used to 19-9. … To be that much further back, it was just an adjustment. Once we adjusted, I thought they did a good job.”
Still undefeated through five games, Skyview will soon turn its attention to 4A Greater St. Helens League games starting the first week of January. For a program that missed the postseason last year and last reached the Class 4A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome in the 2019-20 campaign, the Storm feel like they have something to prove this year.
“Our goal is to be number one in Washington, so we’re going to play hard to do that,” Collins said.
SKYVIEW 64, WESTVIEW (ORE.) 49
At Moda Center, Portland
SKYVIEW — Sam Sheppert 5, Gavin Packer 7, Gavin Perdue 1, Dylan Goetz 0, Demaree Collins 33, Javen Fletch 6, Ryan Hanson 2, Malakai Weimer 7, Joshua Chatman 2. Totals 22 (5) 15-25 64.
WESTVIEW (ORE.) — Jericho Llanes 0, Alex Choi 12, Kai Russell 4, Colten Smith 1, Kaden Huppin 2, Murat Acar 0, Bogdan Chobu 2, Anirudh Andhole 2, Cooper Likens 0, Amare Rolle 3, Jason Grady 8, Peyton Read 2, Nolan Keeney 3, Tyson Jones 8. Totals 20 (3) 5-11 49.
Skyview 12 17 24 11—64
Westview 10 9 11 17—49