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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Tim Martinez: Five things to watch for this prep basketball season

High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

A new high school basketball season tipped off last week, so here are five things to keep an eye on this season.

The first thing is that one-plus-one free throws are a thing of the past.

A new rule will put teams in the bonus after five team fouls in each quarter — as opposed to after seven fouls in each half.

In addition, once a team reaches the bonus, the fouled player will attempt two free throws, not a one-plus-one.

Skyview boys coach Matt Gruhler said the jury is still out on whether he likes the new change or not.

“I think it makes the flow of the second quarter and the fourth quarter better,” Gruhler said. “I’d rather play basketball than shoot free throws.”

Against Glacier Peak on Saturday, neither team reached the new bonus until Glacier Peak reached it late in the fourth quarter.

But Gruhler added that like any new rule, it will take some getting used to.

If a team comes out aggressive early, particularly teams who like to press, they can quickly find themselves giving the opponent a lot of free throws.

“I think as you play in different area, the referees will call the game differently,” he said. “We may see some more touchy calls early. So I think that will be an adjustment that we’ll have to make.

“But I do like if you get in the bonus in the first quarter, you start back at zero to start the second quarter.”

Camas is back

The Camas girls basketball team, coming off a loss in the 4A state championship game last March, returns with a roster that is largely intact from last season.

The Papermakers’ team-first approach makes them a prohibitive favorite to make another run at the state title.

In just two games, Camas has had five different players score in double figures — Reagan Jamison, Addison Harris, Riley Sanz, Baylie Farra and Keirra Thompson. Camas also expects to get key contributions from Sophie Buzzard, Parker Mairs, Brianna Forbes and Kendall Mairs. Kendall Mairs has yet to play this season as she recovers from injuries from the volleyball season, which are not expected to keep her sidelined for too long.

Haywood back at Union

With as stacked as the Camas girls are, it’s hard to imagine they were nearly more stacked.

Brooklynn Haywood, who was an all-state performer for Union as a freshman last season, played summer ball with the Papermakers.

But as the 2023-24 season began, Haywood was back at Union as part of a talented backcourt that includes Ava Smith and Rowyn Riley.

But Union lost five players from last year’s roster due to either transfer or specializing on other sports. That leaves Haywood, Smith and Riley to carry more of the load until the Titans can develop younger players.

Spencer in Seattle

Another high-scoring standout from last year will not be back with his former team.

Tait Spencer, an All-Region player for Battle Ground last season, is playing his senior season for Great Futures Prep, a Seattle-based basketball academy in connection with Sugiyama High School.

But his brother, Trey Spencer, returns to the Tigers. Trey Spencer scored 43 points in a win over Evergreen last Thursday.

New coaches

There are a bevy of new head coaches this winter.

Brett Johnson, the former girls basketball coach at Skyview, is the new boys basketball coach at Battle Ground. Other new boys coaches include Garold Howe (Union), Mark Ganter (Columbia River), Dalton Rausch (Hockinson), Ty Johnson (King’s Way Christian) and Donald Wilson (Seton Catholic).

Tuileisu “T” Anderson, a former girls basketball standout at Union, made her debut as Columbia River’s new girls coach at Union last Wednesday. Other new girls coaches include Jacob Kaler (Skyview), Bradley Polk (Heritage) and Chris Heath (La Center).


Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at tim.martinez@columbian.com, 360-735-4538 or follow @360TMart on Instagram and X (Twitter).