GRAHAM — Few leads are safe in the playoffs, especially for the road team.
The Camas boys basketball team built a 17-point advantage through three quarters of Friday’s 4A bi-district, winner-to-regionals game against Graham-Kapowsin, and appeared to have all the momentum after outscoring the Eagles 27-14 in the third.
Once the Eagles started to see a few baskets fall to start the fourth, while stringing together some defensive stops, they and their home crowd turned up the pressure on the Papermakers.
Graham-Kapowsin’s comeback took numerous twists and turns, but after Camas sent the game to overtime on a Carson Frawley layup, the Eagles survived four extra minutes to pull out a 97-95 win.
The Eagles clinched a berth to next week’s Class 4A state regional round, while the Papermakers, playing their third straight loser-out game, likely ended the season at 20-4. However, Camas will be the COVID alternate if needed.
“The momentum shifted, really, just from their all-around increased aggressiveness,” Camas head coach Ryan Josephson said. “But really, the pace increased to their favor.”
Camas ended the third quarter on a 12-1 run, taking a 71-54 lead to the fourth, which was helped by two free throws off of a technical foul against the Eagles bench.
In the fourth, it was hard to pinpoint exactly where Camas went wrong. One thing was for certain though: Graham-Kapowsin’s Joshua Wood was determined to bring the Eagles back.
Wood scored 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including the go-ahead basket in regulation with approximately two minutes remaining.
Frawley, who finished with 32 points, scored the game-tying layup with 3.6 seconds to play. Wood then caught a full-court inbounds pass and drew a shooting foul, but was unable to hit either free throw to seal the win.
“I felt like they came out with renewed hope and vigor going into overtime,” Josephson said. “That was a call that I did not feel should’ve been made in the first place. I think there was a little bit of the universe balancing things out there. But again, we weren’t able to contain (Wood). He really stepped up.”
Camas took the lead on two separate occasions in the first minute of overtime. Wood, however, hit a 3-pointer to break an 86-all tie. Then, after a potential game-tying Papermakers 3 was tipped, Wood sank two free throws with 10 seconds left to put the Eagles up two possessions.
Stephen Behil added 20 points for Camas.
The Papermakers faced a challenging road to regionals as the second seed out of the 4A Greater St. Helens League, opening with wins over South Kitsap and Kentwood. The latter game, along with Friday, required long road trips.
Josephson acknowledged there was a certain challenge that came with that, though it wasn’t a deterrent for the Papermakers. In fact, going back to last summer, Josephson said one of this group’s most notable traits was their confidence to play against anyone.
For much of the season, the Papermakers proved that in spades.
“Part of what made that confidence authentic was just how hard they worked together as a group for months and months prior to the start of the season,” Josephson said. “For every step of the way, they were putting their money where their mouth is and (earned) the right to be confident … they believed they could go out there and win against anyone.
“That gives you an advantage when you step foot on the court and feel good about what the outcome is going to be.”
GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN 97, CAMAS 95, OT
CAMAS — Luke Dizon 0, Beckett Currie 12, Josh Dabasinskas 4, Jace VanVoorhis 7, Theo McMillan 4, Carson Frawley 32, Quentin Allen 9, Stephen Behil 20, Jamison Carlisle 7. Totals 36 (12) 11-17 95.
GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN — Julian Mason 2, Elijah Cain 21, Joshua Wood 34, Isaiah Norris 0, Gabriel Rzany 8, Nicholas Hunter 3, Isaac Norris 0, Lucas McClendon 0, Christian Ballah 23, Avery Isler 6. Totals 36 (5) 20-34 97.
Camas 21 23 27 10 14—95
G-K 26 14 14 27 16—97