During a trip late last month to Central Oregon for a holiday tournament, things felt almost like normal for Hockinson girls basketball star Gracie Brammer.
“It felt a little like COVID didn’t exist,” the senior said. “It was really great to get out and travel as a team, again.”
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long as an outbreak of COVID-19 has been felt at Hockinson High School.
“We have like no one in our classes,” Brammer said. “I have like 10 people in all my classes. And then at our practices, we’ve had only four girls at practices last week. So we’re just getting back together again.”
Hockinson (7-3) hasn’t played since Dec. 30 at the Oregon Holiday Hoopfest in Bend, Ore. Games last week against Kelso and Mark Morris were postponed because of COVID-19.
The Hawks were back close to full strength at practice on Monday. And they’ll get a few days to get ready for their next game, which is currently slated for Friday night when they host Washougal.
And it could be a milestone night for Brammer, who currently sits in third place in the Hockinson career scoring listing with 796 points, just 15 points behind Amanda McCarty. Brammer’s teammate Kylie Ritter sits in fourth place at 662.
But Brammer isn’t thinking about milestones.
“It’s a great achievement to accomplish,” Brammer said. “But we just focus on the game, and then afterward we say ‘oh, that was great that we did that.’ ”
It’s how Brammer has played her entire career at Hockinson, coach Damon Roche said.
“Gracie is one of those players who could score 30 points a game if you asked her to,” Roche said. “But she shares the ball around. It’s such a tight-knit group of players, and Gracie makes them all better by just being out on the court with them.”
Brammer anchors a senior core of players that includes Kylie Ritter, Ellie Ritter, Addie Chappelle, Delaney Chappelle, Cordy Plymale and Lauren Schadt, most of whom have played together since middle school.
“We know each other, and we’ve bonded together really tightly,” Brammer said. “It’s really fun playing on the court with girls that we’ve been playing together for years.”
Roche made the decision to get this group of players on the court early, and that resulted in the Hawks taking some lumps.
But now is the time to reap the rewards from those hard lessons.
“We were all in the same position, so it helped us get connected better,” Brammer said. “And now I think that everyone knows this is our senior year, so we’re giving it everything we have. We have that mindset. And I think we’re on the right track.”
Roche believes the 1,000-point mark — now some 204 points away — is attainable for Brammer, or even Payton Wangler’s career scoring mark of 1,022 points, if the Hawks can make a deep postseason run.
But that starts with taking care of their league rivals. After facing Washougal on Friday, the Hawks will host Hudson’s Bay next Tuesday.
The Hawks thrust themselves into the discussion for the 2A Greater St. Helens League title with a signature win during the district playoffs last June.
Against Washougal, Hockinson squandered a 20-point second-half lead before rallying to beat the Panthers in overtime, with Brammer producing a pivotal steal and pass to Ellie Ritter for the game-winning shot.
“I think Washougal will be great competition for us,” Brammer said. “It can be a great learning experience to see where we’re at. I think it is going to be a really great game.”
And then Brammer paused and remembered the current situation we’re all in.
“If everyone is healthy and everything,” she added.